Hebrew Roots/Neglected Commandments/Sabbath/Statements of Historians

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This is an account of why Sunday is kept as a sacred day of worship, when there is absolutely nothing about Sunday sacredness in the Bible.

"There is scarcely anything which strikes the mind of the careful student of ancient ecclesiastical history with greater surprise than the comparatively early period at which many of the corruptions of Christianity, which are embodied in the Roman system, took their rise; yet it is not to be supposed that when the first originators of many of these unscriptural notions and practices planted those germs of corruption, they anticipated or even imagined they would ever grow into such a vast and hideous system of superstition and error as is that of popery. " -John Dowling, History of Romanism, 13th Edition, p. 65.

"It would be an error to attribute ['the sanctification of Sunday'] to a definite decision of the Apostles. There is no such decision mentioned the Apostolic documents [that is, the New Testament]." -Antoine Villien, A History of the Commandments of the Church, 1915, p. 23.

"It must be confessed that there is no law in the New Testament concerning the first day." -McClintock and Strong, Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature, Vol. 9, p. 196.

"Modern Christians who talk of keeping Sunday as a 'holy' day, as in the still extant 'Blue Laws,' of colonial America, should know that as a 'holy' day of rest and cessation from labor and amusements Sunday was unknown to Jesus. .It formed no tenant [teaching] of the primitive Church and became 'sacred' only in the course of time. Outside the church its observance was legalized for the Roman Empire through a series of decrees starting with the famous one of Constantine in 321, an edict due to his political and social ideas." -w. w. Hyde, Paganism to Christianity in the Roman Empire, 1946, p. 257.

"Rites and ceremonies, of which neither Paul nor Peter ever heard, crept silently into use, and then claimed the rank of divine institutions. [Church] officers for whom the primitive disciples could have found no place, and titles which to them would have been altogether unintelligible, began to challenge attention, and to be named apostolic." -William D. Killen, The Ancient Church, p. xvi.

"The festival of Sunday, like all other festivals was always only a human ordinance, and it was far from the intentions of the apostles to establish a Divine command in this respect, far from them, and from the early apostolic church, to transfer the laws of the Sabbath to Sunday." -Augustus Neander, The History of the Christian Religion and Church, 1843, p. 186.

"During this indefinite time a considerable amount of a sort of theokrasia seems to have gone on between the Christian cult and the almost equally popular and widely diffused Mithraic cult, and the cult of Serapis-Isis-Horus. From the former it would seem the Christians adopted Sunday as their chief day of worship instead of the Jewish Sabbath."-H. G. WELLS, "The Outline of History" (Newand Revised), page 543.

The [Catholic] Church took the pagan buckler of faith against the heathen. She took the pagan Roman Pantheon [the Roman], temple to all the gods, and made it sacred to all the martyrs; so it stands to this day. She took the pagan Sunday and made it the Christian Sunday. .The Sun was a foremost god with heathendom. Balder the beautiful: the White God, the old Scandinavians called him. The sun has worshipers at this very hour in Persia and other lands. .Hence the Church would seem to have said, 'Keep that old pagan name. It shall remain consecrated, sanctified.' And thus the pagan Sunday, dedicated to Balder, became the Christian Sunday, sacred to Jesus. The sun is a fitting emblem of Jesus. The Fathers often compared Jesus to the sun; as they compared Mary to the moon." -William L. Gildea, "Paschale Gaudium," in The Catholic World, p. 58, March 1894.

"The Church made a sacred day of Sunday. .largely because it was the weekly festival of the sun; -for it was a definite Christian policy to take over the pagan festivals endeared to the people by tradition, and give them a Christian significance." -Authur Weigall, The Paganism in Our Christianity, 1928, p. 145.

"It is not strange that Sunday is almost universally observed when the Sacred Writings do not endorse it? Satan, the great counterfeiter, worked through the 'mystery of iniquity' to introduce a counterfeit Sabbath to take the place of the true Sabbath.

Sunday stands side by side with Ash Wednesday, Palm Sunday, Holy (or Maundy) Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Sunday, WhitSunday, Corpus Christi, Assumption Day, All Soul's Day, Christmas Day, and a host of other ecclesiastical feast days too numerous to mention. This array of Roman Catholic feasts and fast days are all man made. None of them bears the divine credentials of the Author of the Inspired Word." -M. E. Walsh.

About 300 years after the last book of the Bible was originally written, the changeover was made.

"Unquestionably the first law, either ecclesiastical or civil, by which the Sabbatical observance of that day is known to have been ordained, is the edict of Constantine, A.D. 321."- Chamber's Encyclopedia, article, "Sabbath."

"Until well into the second century [a hundred years after Christ] we do not find the slightest indication in our sources that early followers marked Sunday by any kind of abstention from work." -W .Rordorf, Sunday, p. 157.

"The early Christians had at first adopted the Jewish seven- day week with its numbered week days, but by the close of the third century A.D. this began to give way to the planetary week; and in the fourth and fifth centuries the pagan designations became generally accepted in the western half of Christendom. The use of the planetary names by Christians attests the growing influence of astrological speculations introduced by converts from paganism. ...During these same centuries the spread of Oriental solar worships, especially that of Mithra ( Persian sun worship) in the Roman world, had already led to the substitution by pagans of dies Solis for dies Saturni, as the first day of the planetary week. ... Thus gradually a pagan institution was ingrafted on Christianity ." -HUTTON

"The ancient Sabbath did remain and was observed by the Christians of the Eastern Church [in the area near Palestine] above three hundred years after our Saviour's death." -A Learned Treatise of the Sabbath, p. 77. WEBSTER, Ph.D., "Rest Days," pages 220,221.

Similarly the Constitution of the Holy Apostles (Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 7, p. 413; c. 3rd century) states: Thou shalt observe the Sabbath, on account of Him who ceased from His work of creation, but ceased not from His work of providence: it is a rest for meditation of the law, not for idleness of the hands.

The Sabbatati of Europe were not an inconsiderable force. The Church established in Milan kept the Sabbath. It was the practice generally of the Eastern Churches; and some churches of the West ... For in the Church of Millaine [Milan]; ... "it seemes the Saturday was held in a farre esteeme ... Not that the Easterne Churches, or any of the rest which observed that day were inclined to Iudaisme [Judaism]; but that they came together on the Sabbath day, to worship Iesus [Jesus] Christ the Lord of the Sabbath " (Dr. Peter Heylyn History of the Sabbath, London 1636, Part 2, para. 5, pp. 73-74; original spelling retained).

Origen advocated Sabbath-keeping

After the festival of the unceasing sacrifice [the crucifixion] is put the second festival of the Sabbath, and it is fitting for whoever is righteous among the saints to keep also the festival of the Sabbath. There remaineth therefore a sabbatismus, that is, a keeping of the Sabbath, to the people of God [Hebrews 4:9] (Homily on Numbers 23, para. 4, in Migne, Patrologia Græca, Vol. 12, cols. 749, 750).

The Change

"Opposition to Judaism introduced the particular festival of Sunday very early, indeed, into the place of the Sabbath. ... The festival of Sunday, like all other festivals, was always only a human ordinance, and it was far from the intentions of the apostles to establish a divine command in this respect, far from them, and from the early apostolic church, to transfer the laws of the Sabbath to Sunday. Perhaps, at the end of the second century a false application of this kind had begun to take place ; for men appear by that time to have considered labouring on Sunday as a sin."-AUGUSTUS ~EANDER, "General History of the Christian Religion and Church" (Rose's tran51ation). Vol. I, page JR6

"The first who ever used it [Sabbath] to denote the Lord's day ( the first that I have met with in all this search) is one Petrus Alfonsus-he lived about the time that Repurtus did (which was the beginning of the twelfth century)-who calls the Lord's day by the name of Christian Sabbath."-PETER HEYLYN, "History of the Sabbath," Part 2, Chap. 2, Sec. 12.

"Bear in mind that the substitution [ of the first for the seventh day] was not a coerced happening; it could not be a sudden, but only a very slow development, probably never anticipated, never even designed or put into shape by those chiefly interested, but creeping almost unconsciously into being."-WILLIAM B. DANA, ".4 Day of Rest and Worship," page 174.

The Dictionary of New Testament Theology states "We may conclude then, that though [Yeshua] broke through the rabbinic tradition about the Sabbath, there was no annulling of the observance of the day."'

Cardinal Gibbons in Faith of Our Fathers, 92nd ed., p. 89, says, "You may read the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, and you will not find a single line authorizing the sanctification of Sunday. The Scriptures enforce the religious observance of Saturday, a day which we never sanctify."

Constantine called the Sun-deity: "Unconquered Sun, my companion." His edict in the year 321 legislated the "venerable day of the Sun" to be a rest-day. This rest was commanded in honour of the Sun, and not in honour of Messiah. Sun worship was the earliest idolatry ." -Fausset Bible Dictionary , p. 666.

"Sun worship was one of the oldest components of the Roman religion." -Gaston H. Halsberge, The Cult of Sol Invictus, 1972, p. 26.

See Come out of her my people, by C. J. Koster

The Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible' says that Sunday became a day of rest because of "the general importance of the Sun-god in the Empire. Indeed, this god was the titulary divinity of Constantine's family, and from the fourth century there is an increasing assimilation of Christ to the Sun-god (as Sun of Righteousness), the Christos Helios (cf. Eusebius Life of Constantine 1.4.18; and the notable mosaic of Christos Helios recently uncovered in the tomb of the Julii under the Vatican)."

Helios means the Sun-deity, as opposed to the physical sun.

Origen followed in the footsteps of his teacher Clement of Alexandria and proclaimed our Saviour to be "the Sun," "the True Sun." Cyprian also called our Saviour "the True Sun." Bishop Zeno of Verona write about Christ-the-Sun as the True Sun, as the Eternal Sun.

A. Paiva writes, "The first day of each week, Sunday, was consecrated to Mithra since times remote, as several authors affirm. Because the Sun was god, the Lord par excellence, sunday came to be called the Lord's day, as later was done by Christianity."


" 'Babylon, the mother of harlots,' derived much of her teaching from pagan Rome and thence from Babylon. Sun worship -that led her to Sunday keeping, -was one of those choice bits of paganism that sprang originally from the heathen lore of ancient Babylon: The solar theology of the 'Chaldeans' had a decisive effect upon the final development of Semitic paganism. .[It led to their] seeing the sun the directing power of the cosmic system. All the Baals were thence forward turned into suns; the sun itself being the mover of the other stars -like it eternal and 'unconquerable' .. Such was the final form reached by the religion of the pagan Semites, and following them, by that of the Romans. .when they raised 'Sol Invictus' [the Invincible Sun] to the rank of supreme divinity in the empire." -Franz F. V. M. Cummont, Astrology and Religion Among the Greeks and Romans, p. 55.

"When Christianity conquered Rome, the ecclesiastical structure of the pagan church, the title and the vestments of the 'pontifex maximus,' the worship to the 'Great Mother' goddess and a multitude of comforting divinities. .the joy or solemnity of old festivals, and the pageantry of immemorial ceremony, passed like material blood into the new religion, -and captive Rome conquered her conqueror. The reins and skills of government were handed down by a dying empire to a virile papacy ." - Will Durant, Caesar and Christ, p. 672.

Origen, in his Gene,fin Homilia I ,5 and 1,8 identified the Messiah with the Sun. Origen's Commentary on Iohn, wherein he equates Messiah's resurrection with the rising Sun in the East.

Tertullian, in the year 197 was perturbed at the praying toward the Sun in the East, but found it acceptable if this was done "on other ground than Sun-worship"

F.J. Dolger summarizes this as "The Gentile Christians, with the Eastward orientated prayers, simply retained an inborn custom of their heathen past, They instilled this custom with new contents, being freed from heathenism through it and at the same time being made a sign of distinction between Judaism and Christianity."

The practice probably originated from Brahman India. Ambrosius said that this was adopted "from the custom of the Brahmans".

Firmicus identified our Saviour with the Sun-deity in his writings in the year 343, and Garruci painted our Messiah with sun-rays around His head, thereby clearly identifying our Saviour with the Sun-deity, now being called "Christ Helios," "Sun of Resurrection," "the True Sun."

Clement of Alexandria wrote, quoting Menander, "Sun, one must venerate you as the first of the gods; through you we are capable of looking at the other gods The solarization became even worse. In the 5th century, the Messiah was not only called "the True Sun," but also "the true Apollo".

Constantine's Edict

"On the Venerable Day of the Sun ["Venerable die Solis" -the sacred day of the Sun ] let the magistrates and people residing in cities rest, and let all workshops be closed. In the country, however, persons engaged in agriculture may freely and lawfully continue their pursuits; because it often happens that another day is not so suitable for grain-sowing or for vine-planting; lest by neglecting the proper moment for such operations the bounty of heaven should be lost- given the 7th day of March [A.D. 321], Crispus and Constantine being consuls each of them for the second time."- The First Sunday Law of Constantine I, in "Codex Justianianus,"lib. 3, tit. 12,3; trans. in Phillip Schaff, History of the Christian Church, Vol. 3, p. 380. 1910

"This [Constantine's Sunday decree of March 321] is the 'parent' Sunday law making it a day of rest and release from labor. For from that time to the present there have been decrees about the observance of Sunday which have profoundly influenced European and American society. When the Church became a part of State under the Christian emperors, Sunday observance was enforced by civil statutes, and later when the Empire was past, the Church in the hands of the papacy enforced it by ecclesiastical and also by civil enactments." -Walter W. Hyde, Paganism to Christianity in the Roman Empire, 1946, p. 261.

"Constantine's decree marked the beginning of a long, though intermittent series of imperial decrees in support of Sunday rest" -Vincent J. Kelly, Forbidden Sunday and Feast-Day Occupations, 1943, p. 29.

"Constantine labored at this time untiringly to unite the worshipers of the old and the new into one religion. All his laws and contrivances are aimed at promoting this amalgamation of means melt together a purified heathenism and a modernised Christianity ..Of all his blending and melting together of Christianity and heathenism, none is more easy to see through than this making of his Sunday law: The Christians worshiped their Christ, the heathen their sun-god [so they should now be combined]." -H. G. Heggtveit, Illustreret Kirkehistorie, 1895, p. 202.

Council of Laodicca, Canon 29

"Christians shall not Judaize and be idle on Saturday [in the original: 'sabbato' -shall not be idle on the Sabbath], but shall work on that day; but the Lord's day they shall especially honour, and as being Christians, shall, if possible, do no work on that day. If, however, they are found Judaizing, they shall be shut out ['anathema,' excommunicated] from Christ." - Council of Laodicea, c. A.D. 337, Canon 29, quoted in C. J. Hefele, A History of the Councils of the Church, Vol. 2, p. 316.

" All things whatsoever that were prescribed for the [Bible] Sabbath, we have transferred them to the Lord's day, as being more authoritative and more highly regarded and first in rank, and more honorable than the Jewish Sabbath." -Bishop Eusebius, quoted in J. P. Migne, "Patrologie," p. 23,1169-1172 (Eusebius of Caesarea was a high-ranking Catholic leader during Constantine's lifetime].

About 417 A.D, Pope Innocent I, wrote a decretal that the church should absolutely not observe the sacraments on Friday or Saturday. This indicates that at that time, a lot of people were observing it on those days. Contemporary historians, Sozomen and Socrates confirm this.

Socrates writes in H.E., vi.c.8 "Although almost all churches throughout the world celebrated the sacred mysteries on the Sabbath of every week, yet the Christians of Alexandria and Rome, on account of some ancient tradition, have ceased to do this."

Observance of Sunday became a legal duty in the constitution of Constantine in A.D. 321, enacting that all courts of justice, inhabitants of towns, and workshops were to be at rest on Sunday ( venerabili die Solis) , with an exception in favour of those engaged in agricultural labour. ...The Council of Laodicea (363) ...forbids Christians from Judaizing and resting on the Sabbath day, preferring the Lord's day, and so far as possible resting as Christians."-Encyclopedia Britannica, 1899 Edition, Vol. XXIII, page 654.

" As we have already noted, excepting for the Roman and Alexandrian Christians, the majority of Christians were observing the seventh-day Sabbath at least as late as the middle of the fifth century [A.D. 450]. The Roman and Alexandrian Christians were among those converted from heathenism. They began observing Sunday as a merry religious festival in honor of the Lord's resurrection, about the latter half of the second century AD. However, they did not try to teach that the Lord or His apostles commanded it.

"These Gentile Christians of Rome and Alexandria began calling the first day of the week 'the Lord's day.' This was not difficult for the pagans of the Roman Empire who were steeped in sun worship to accept, because they [the pagans] referred to their sun-god as their 'Lord.' " -E. M. Chalmers, How Sunday Came into the Christian Church, p. 3.

"Although almost all churches throughout the world celebrate the sacred mysteries on the Sabbath every week, yet the Christians of Alexandria and at Rome, on account of some ancient tradition, have ceased to do this." -Socrates Scholasticus, quoted in Ecclesiastical History, Book 5, chap. 22 [written shortly after A.D. 439].

"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." -He as Sozomen, quoted in Ecclesiastical History, vii, 19, in A Select Library of Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, 2nd Series, Vol. 2, p. 390 [written soon after A.D. 415].

"Down even to the fifth century the observance of the Jewish Sabbath was continued in the Christian church, but with a rigor and solemnity gradually diminishing until it was wholly discontinued." -Lyman Coleman, Ancient Christianity Exemplified, chap. 26, sec. 2, p. 527.

"Contantine's [five Sunday Law] decrees marked the beginning of a long though intermittent series of imperial decrees in support of Sunday rest." -A History of the Councils of the Church, Vol. 2, p. 316.

About 590, Pope Gregory , in a letter to the Roman people, denounced as the prophets of Antichrist those who maintained that work ought not to be done on the seventh day." -James T. Ringgold, The Law of Sunday, p. 267.

"What began, however, as a pagan ordinance, ended as a Christian regulation; and a long series of imperial decrees, during the fourth, fifth, and sixth, centuries, enjoined with increasing stringency abstinence from labor on Sunday." -Hutton Webster, Rest Days, pp. 122-123,270.

His words were, "The authority of the Church could therefore not be bound to the authority of the Scriptures, because the Church had changed. ..the Sabbath into Sunday, not by the command of Christ, but by its own authority." (Canon and Tradition, p. 263).

"Sunday was a name given by the heathens to the first day of the week, because it was the day on which they worshipped the sun, ...the seventh day was blessed and hallowed by God Himself, and. ..He requires His creatures to keep it holy to Him. This commandment is of universal and perpetual obligation. ...The Creator 'blessed the seventh day'-declared it to be a day above all days, a day on which His favor should assuredly rest: ...So long, then, as man exists, and the world around him endures, does the law of the early Sabbath remain. It cannot be set aside. so long as its foundations last. ...It is not the Jewish Sabbath, properly so-called, which is ordained in the fourth commandment. In the whole of that injunction there is no Jewish element, any more than there is in the third commandment, or the sixth."- Eadie's Biblical Cyclopedia, 1872 Edition, page 561.

"As the Sabbath is of divine institution, so it is to be kept holy unto the Lord. Numerous have been the days appointed by men for religious services; but these are not binding, because of human institution. Not so the Sabbath. Hence the fourth commandment is ushered in with a peculiar emphasis-' Remember that thou keep holy the sabbath day.' ...The abolition of it would be unreasonable." -CHARLES BUCK, " A Theological Dictionary," r83O Edition, page 537.

James says that we cannot keep some of the Commandments and not others (James 2: 10-12 and Deut, 4:2). On the basis that Messiah told us to keep the Father's Commandments if we are to enter into eternal life -Matt, 19:17, Luke 10:28. He says, "the Word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day" (Jn. 12:48). For this same reason, Paul says to keep the Commandment "without spot, blameless" (1 Tim. 6:13-14)