Where did Sunday worship come from? And where did the Sabbath go?

Where did Sunday worship come from?

A historical and biblical study of the origin of the Sunday worship service.

There are two reasons given for the Sunday morning worship service. Many base the idea on an example from Acts 20:7. Others simply state we must remember His death on the day of His resurrection, Sunday. Right away, there should be something real obvious about this idea. Why would we remember His death, on the day He rose from the grave? Why not on Wednesday night when He was put in the grave? We will examine both reasons and see if they are sound doctrine. We will go further and seek to prove exactly when are we supposed to observe the Lord’s Supper according to the bible.

Acts 20:7 From Several Different Versions
Did the diciples eat the communion on Sunday?
Part One
These versions of the Bible state the disciples met, not on the first day of the week, but on the Sabbath day, Sabbath evening, or Saturday night.
The New English Bible
"On Saturday night, in our assembling for the breaking of bread, Paul, who was to leave next day, ..."
Concordant Version
"Now on one of the sabbath days, at our having gathered to break bread ..."
The New Testament, by William Barclay
"On the Saturday evening we gathered together for our common meal."
Good News for Modern Man
"On Saturday evening we gathered together for the fellowship meal."
Diaglot, An Interlinear Translation by Ben Wilson
"In the first of the sabbaths, having been assembled of us to break bread ..."
The Kingdom Interlinear Translation of the Greek Scriptures
"In but the one of the sabbaths having been led together of us to break bread ..."
New International Version Interlinear Greek-English N.T.
"And on the one (first) of the sabbaths (week) having been us assembled ..."
The Interlinear Hebrew-Greek-English Bible, by Jay Green
"On and one of the sabbaths, having been assembled the disciples - to break bread, ..."
The Jewish New Testament
"On Saturday night when we were gathered to break bread, ..."
Ferrar Fenton Version
"Now, on the first of the Sabbaths when we assembled to break bread ..."
Part Two
These versions of the Bible state in Acts 20:7 that the disciples gathered to eat a common meal (not the Messiah's Memorial Supper).
The N.T. In the Language of Today, by William F. Beck
"On Sunday we met for a meal ..."
Good News For Modern Man
"On Saturday we gathered together for the fellowship meal ..."
New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures
"On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to have a meal ..."
The New Testament, by William Barclay
"On Saturday we met for our common meal."
From The Companion Bible
Notes on Acts 20:6 & 7 by E. W. Bullinger
"First, etc. - first day of the sabbaths, i.e. the first day for reckoning the seven sabbaths to Pentecost. It depended upon the harvest (Deut. 16:9), and was from the morrow after the weekly sabbath when the wave sheaf was presented (Lev. 23:15). In John 20:1 - this was the fourth day after the crucifixion, 'the Lord's Passover.' Compare Appendix 156. This was by Divine order. But in A.D. 57 [Acts 20:7] it was 12 days after the week of unleavened bread, and therefore more than a fortnight later than in A.D. 29. ... 'The Disciples;' the texts read 'We.' ... 'Break bread.' See the note on [Acts] 2:42."
Note on Acts 2:42 by E. W. Bullinger
"'Break bread.' This was a common meal. Compare verses 44, 46, and Mt. 14:19, Isa. 58:7."
Part Three
Acts 20:7: The Communion Service?
Comments by Voy Wilks
"And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, ..." (Acts 20:7 KJV). (Note translators' italics, indicating day is an added word.)
Because Paul and his party were present, the disciples seem to have lingered on into the night following the Sabbath (which ended at sunset), and held a banquet in honor of Paul who was to leave at daybreak; that is, Sunday morning (Acts 20:11).
Paul went on foot from Troas to Assos, approximately thirty miles. He did this during the daylight part of the first day of the week. At the same time, the ship made a loop around the peninsula, from Troas and later took Paul on board at Assos (Acts 20:11-13). Please see the map below. If at that time the first day of the week was regularly honored as the day of rest and (or) the day of worship, does it not seem improper for Paul to have taken such a walk on the first day of the week? Indeed it does. The indications are, the first day of the week was then, as now, a work day. The day of worship and rest was the Sabbath, the seventh day of the week (Ex. 20:8-11; Heb. 4:9,10 RSV).
"It is therefore the duty of the people of God to keep the Sabbath" (Heb. 4:10, Lamsa Version).
That the meal eaten (as recorded in Acts 20:7) was not the Memorial or Communion Supper of Yahshua is indicated by the following points:
· Most of the disciples ate the meal in the early part of the night, it seems, while Paul did not eat until after midnight. So if Acts 20:7 was indeed the Communion Supper, Paul apparently did not commune with the other saints (Acts 20:7,11).
· Several versions of the Bible, as noted above, indicate this was a common meal.
· The Messiah's supper is to be eaten, not in memory of his resurrection, but in memory of his death (1 Cor. 11:26).
· The Apostle Paul instructed the disciples to keep the Memorial Supper at night – the night in which the Messiah was betrayed; that is, the night of Abib 14th (1 Cor. 11:23-26; Mk. 14:12-17; Lev. 23:5).
· The Greek text reads "the disciples met on one of the Sabbaths" (Acts 20:7). "One of the Sabbaths" is not the first day of the week. Instead (as noted above in the Bullinger comments), "one of the Sabbaths" refers to one of those seven Sabbaths between Passover and Pentecost which, in fact, determined the time for the feast of Pentecost (Lev. 23:10-16; Deut. 16:9). Another allusion to the counting of these seven Sabbaths is found in Lk. 6:1, which reads: "And it came to pass on the second sabbath after the first, that he went through the corn fields; and his disciples plucked the ears of corn, and did eat, rubbing them in their hands" (Lk. 6:1 KJV).
The count to the Feast of Weeks (Pentecost) began on the day following the first weekly Sabbath which fell during the days of unleavened bread. Seven Sabbaths were counted and the 50th day was the Feast of Weeks (Pentecost). Acts 20:7 occurred during the grain harvest – during the counting of the seven Sabbaths until Pentecost.
The meeting recorded in Acts 20:7 was not for the purpose of eating the Communion Supper (or Passover Supper). Instead, it was a one-time event honoring Paul upon his departure.

I understand we all know and love the King James version of the bible. I have memorized from it all my life and prefer it. But it is not the inspired text, it is a translation of the inspired text. Modern scholars work from the same Greek texts and are not biased to make this passage in Acts sound like a Sunday service like the 1600’s translators were. The Catholic Church was burning people at the stake for keeping the Sabbath just a few years before this translation was made. The closest us good old boys can get to reading the original Greek is to read a Greek interlinear bible. When there is a discrepancy between the King James and the Greek interlinear, place your bets on the original text and not on King James. It’s much older and more accurate!
The only other idea of a Sunday morning communion and worship service comes from the resurrection day death memorial doctrine. When the very basis for this is a contradiction, one has to wonder where it came from and why it is still preached today in virtually every church. We can know from documented history where this idea originated and I will try to bring it out for you. One religious group takes the credit for this in the collection of quotes below:
Vatican Admits that Sunday is NOT the Biblical Sabbath
In a recent Catholic church newsletter it stated, "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 domini] was chosen, not from any direction noted in the Scriptures, but from the Church's sense of its own power..... People who think that the Scriptures should be the sole authority, should logically keep Saturday holy." Saint Catherine Catholic Church Sentinel, Algonac, Michigan, May 21, 1995.

No Scriptural Support
"Sunday is a Catholic institution and its claim to observance 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." Catholic Press, Sydney, Australia, August 1900.

The Vatican's Mark of Authority
"Sunday is our mark of authority..... The church is above the Bible, and this transference of sabbath observance is proof of that fact." The Catholic Record, London, Ontario, September 1, 1923.

Catholic Catechism
"Question: Which is the Sabbath day?"
"Answer: Saturday is the Sabbath."

"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 Convert's Catechism of Catholic Doctrine, by Peter Geiermann, 50.

Vatican Pushes for Sunday Legislation
In Europe the Sunday Law issue is expected to be contentious as Pope John Paul II continues to press for mandatory Sunday closing laws. Church and State, May, 1992.
Currently the Vatican is asking the "civil authorities" to cooperate with the Church in the legislation of Sunday as the nation's day of rest.
"The civil authorities should be urged to cooperate with the church in maintaining and strengthening this public worship of God, and to support with their own authority the regulations set down by the church's pastors. For it is only in this way that the faithful will understand why it is Sunday and not the Sabbath day that we now keep holy." Roman Catechism (1985).

What do you Think?
If "civil authorities" pass a national Sunday law, does that prove that Sunday is the Sabbath day for man?
Should the "civil authorities" pass a national Sunday law because they are pressured by religious powers?
Should individuals be penalized for worshiping on a different day other than Sunday?
Does it seem reasonable to you that the Church of Rome would push for Sunday legislation when they admit that Sunday is not the true Biblical day of rest?

Rome's Challenge to Protestants:
Excerpts from The Clifton Tract, Volume 4, published by the Roman Catholic Church in 1869:
"Why Don't you keep Holy the Sabbath Day?"
I am going to propose a very plain and serious question for those who follow 'the Bible and the Bible only' to give their most earnest attention. It is this: Why do you not keep holy the Sabbath Day?
"The command of Almighty God stands clearly written in the Bible in these words: 'Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labor, and do all thy work; but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God; in it thou shalt not do any work.'" Exodus 20:8-10.
"You will answer me, perhaps, that you do keep the Sabbath; for that you abstain from all worldly business and diligently go to church, and say your prayers, and read your Bible at home every Sunday of your lives."
"But Sunday is not the Sabbath day. Sunday is the first day of the week: the Sabbath day is the seventh day of the week. Almighty God did not give a commandment that men should keep holy one day in seven; but He named His own day, and said distinctly: 'Thou shalt keep holy the seventh day'; and He assigned a reason for choosing this day rather than any other -- a reason which belongs only to the seventh day of the week, and cannot be applied to the rest. He says, 'For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day; wherefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it' Exodus 20:11; Genesis 2:1-3. Almighty God ordered that all men should rest from their labor on the seventh day, because He too had rested on that day: He did not rest on Sunday, but on Saturday. On Sunday, which is the first day of the week, He began the work of creation; He did not finish it. It was on Saturday that He 'ended His work which He had made: and God blessed the 7th day, and sanctified it: because that in it He had rested from all His work which God created and made.'" Genesis 2:2-3.
"Nothing can be more plain and easy to understand than all this, there is nobody who attempts to deny it. It is acknowledged by everybody that the day which Almighty God appointed to be kept holy was Saturday, not Sunday. Why do you keep holy the Sunday and not Saturday?"
"You will tell me that Saturday was the Jewish Sabbath, but that the Christian Sabbath has been changed to Sunday. Changed! But by whom? Who has authority to change an express commandment of Almighty God? When God had spoken and said, 'Thou shalt keep holy the seventh day,' who shall dare to say, 'Nay, thou mayest work and do all manner of worldly business on the seventh day: but thou shalt keep holy the first day in its stead?' This is a most important question, which I know not how you answer."
"You are a Protestant, and you profess to go by the Bible and the Bible only; and yet, in so important a matter as the observance of one day in seven as the holy day, you go against the plain letter of the Bible, and put another day in the place of that day which the Bible has commanded. The command to keep holy the 7th day is one of the Ten Commandments; you believe that the other nine are still binding. Who gave you authority to tamper with the fourth? If you are consistent with your own principles, if you really follow the Bible, and the Bible only, you ought to be able to produce some portion of the New Testament in which this 4th commandment is expressly altered."
Excerpts from "Why don't you keep holy the Sabbath Day?" pages 3-15 in the Clifton Tract, Volume 4, published by the Roman Catholic Church in 1869.

We will see if their claim is true. First, take a look at the doctrine I have pasted below. Read to see if this sounds familiar. I hope you are happy with the origin:


This is the day which the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.103
The day of the Resurrection: the new creation
2174 Jesus rose from the dead "on the first day of the week."104 Because it is the "first day," the day of Christ's Resurrection recalls the first creation. Because it is the "eighth day" following the sabbath,105 it symbolizes the new creation ushered in by Christ's Resurrection. For Christians it has become the first of all days, the first of all feasts, the Lord's Day (he kuriake hemera, dies dominica) Sunday:
We all gather on the day of the sun, for it is the first day [after the Jewish sabbath, but also the first day] when God, separating matter from darkness, made the world; and on this same day Jesus Christ our Savior rose from the dead.106
Sunday - fulfillment of the sabbath
2175 Sunday is expressly distinguished from the sabbath which it follows chronologically every week; for Christians its ceremonial observance replaces that of the sabbath. In Christ's Passover, Sunday fulfills the spiritual truth of the Jewish sabbath and announces man's eternal rest in God. For worship under the Law prepared for the mystery of Christ, and what was done there prefigured some aspects of Christ:107
Those who lived according to the old order of things have come to a new hope, no longer keeping the sabbath, but the Lord's Day, in which our life is blessed by him and by his death.108
2176 The celebration of Sunday observes the moral commandment inscribed by nature in the human heart to render to God an outward, visible, public, and regular worship "as a sign of his universal beneficence to all."109 Sunday worship fulfills the moral command of the Old Covenant, taking up its rhythm and spirit in the weekly celebration of the Creator and Redeemer of his people.
The Sunday Eucharist
2177 The Sunday celebration of the Lord's Day and his Eucharist is at the heart of the Church's life. "Sunday is the day on which the paschal mystery is celebrated in light of the apostolic tradition and is to be observed as the foremost holy day of obligation in the universal Church."110
"Also to be observed are the day of the Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Epiphany, the Ascension of Christ, the feast of the Body and Blood of Christi, the feast of Mary the Mother of God, her Immaculate Conception, her Assumption, the feast of Saint Joseph, the feast of the Apostles Saints Peter and Paul, and the feast of All Saints."111
2178 This practice of the Christian assembly dates from the beginnings of the apostolic age.112 The Letter to the Hebrews reminds the faithful "not to neglect to meet together, as is the habit of some, but to encourage one another."113
Tradition preserves the memory of an ever-timely exhortation: Come to Church early, approach the Lord, and confess your sins, repent in prayer. . . . Be present at the sacred and divine liturgy, conclude its prayer and do not leave before the dismissal. . . . We have often said: "This day is given to you for prayer and rest. This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it."114
2179 "A parish is a definite community of the Christian faithful established on a stable basis within a particular church; the pastoral care of the parish is entrusted to a pastor as its own shepherd under the authority of the diocesan bishop."115 It is the place where all the faithful can be gathered together for the Sunday celebration of the Eucharist. The parish initiates the Christian people into the ordinary expression of the liturgical life: it gathers them together in this celebration; it teaches Christ's saving doctrine; it practices the charity of the Lord in good works and brotherly love:
You cannot pray at home as at church, where there is a great multitude, where exclamations are cried out to God as from one great heart, and where there is something more: the union of minds, the accord of souls, the bond of charity, the prayers of the priests.116
The Sunday obligation
2180 The precept of the Church specifies the law of the Lord more precisely: "On Sundays and other holy days of obligation the faithful are bound to participate in the Mass."117 "The precept of participating in the Mass is satisfied by assistance at a Mass which is celebrated anywhere in a Catholic rite either on the holy day or on the evening of the preceding day."118
2181 The Sunday Eucharist is the foundation and confirmation of all Christian practice. For this reason the faithful are obliged to participate in the Eucharist on days of obligation, unless excused for a serious reason (for example, illness, the care of infants) or dispensed by their own pastor.119 Those who deliberately fail in this obligation commit a grave sin.
2182 Participation in the communal celebration of the Sunday Eucharist is a testimony of belonging and of being faithful to Christ and to his Church. The faithful give witness by this to their communion in faith and charity. Together they testify to God's holiness and their hope of salvation. They strengthen one another under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

Is this what you preach and believe?

Now, at this point we have heard some bold claims. Let’s examine the evidence. Did the Catholic Church really change the Sabbath to Sunday and make it a day of worship? Did Jesus really rise from the grave on Sunday before the dawn? Does it even matter, is there any where in the bible where the Apostles taught that it was important that He rose on the Sabbath or Sunday? NO, but we’ll show He rose on Sabbath before sundown anyway.

What is the historical proof of a Catholic Church based change that led to the end of Sabbath and biblical feast keeping and the start of the Sunday worship. We will base our historical writings around the oldest and most reliable early church father, the only one to have lived and known John, the last Apostle. His name was Polycarp. The point of this study of historical writings is to simply show the origin of the Sunday service.

The Apostle John ended up being the leader of the Church in Asia Minor, specifically, Ephesus. John, and a claimed follower of his named Polycarp, kept the Saturday Sabbath. There is no direct, nor indirect, historical evidence that John and other true Christians ever observed Sunday.
According to an old, but probably modified in the 4th century document, Polycarp kept the Sabbath:
I will give the narration in order, thus coming down to the history of the blessed Polycarp...
And on the sabbath, when prayer had been made long time on bended knee, he, as was his custom, got up to read; and every eye was fixed upon him...
And on the following sabbath he said; 'Hear ye my exhortation, beloved children of God. I adjured you when the bishops were present, and now again I exhort you all to walk decorously and worthily in the way of the Lord, knowing that, when I was in the ministry of the presbyters, I applied so great diligence according to my power, and shall do this the more now when the greatest peril awaits me if I am negligent. For after the fear of the judgment, it were shameful to abate and relax anything having regard to men, and not rather to build up higher the zeal which has reached thus far. It pertaineth to you therefore to hold back from all unruliness, both men and women; and let no one imagine that I exact punishment from offenders not from conscientiousness but from human pride. For it has happened that some of those who were put into offices, when they ought all the more, as one might say, to strain every nerve in the race, just then relax their efforts, forgetting that, the greater honour a man appeareth to receive, the greater the loyalty which he ought to pay towards the Master, and to remember the words of the Lord how He himself said, On whom I conferred the more, from him let them demand the more abundantly in return; and the parable of those who had the talents committed to them, and the blessing pronounced upon the servant that watches, and the reproof of those who refused to come to the marriage feast, and the condemnation of him whose garment was not befitting the marriage festivity, and the entering in of the wise virgins, the saying Watch ye, and again Be ye ready, Let not your hearts be weighed down, the new commandment concerning love one towards another, His advent suddenly manifest as of rapid lightning, the great judgment by fire, the eternal life, His immortal kingdom. And all things whatsoever being taught of God ye know, when ye search the inspired Scriptures, engrave with the pen of the Holy Spirit on your hearts, that the commandments may abide in you indelible.'
Thus speaking in this way from time to time, and being persistent in his teaching, he edified and saved both himself and his hearers. (Pionius, Life of Polycarp (1889) from J. B. Lightfoot, The Apostolic Fathers, vol. 3.2, pp.488-506)

Polycarp followed in the footsteps of Jesus and Paul in preaching and doing good on the Sabbath. He also kept the Passover, again, following the Apostle Paul and Jesus, and he claims also John, as we will see later.

Which Day Did Paul Keep?
What about the Apostle Paul? What did he keep? Did he give any hint in the New Testament about what day?
The Apostle Paul kept the seventh-day Sabbath and taught that the Sabbath-rest remained for the people of God.
Notice that 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. And that is why Paul observed it.

Acts 13:42-44 shows what Paul did,
...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 states,
And he reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and persuaded both Jews and Greeks.
Hence the New Testament is clear that Paul kept the Sabbath, regularly preached on the Sabbath, and that he wrote that there remains "a Sabbath-rest for the people of God".

Back to Polycarp:

Around 153, near the end of his life, Polycarp visited the Roman Bishop Anicetus to discuss the differences that existed between Asia and Rome "with regard to certain things" especially the observance of Passover. They “disputed much with each other” over Passover. Ireaneus says:

“Neither could Anicetus persuade Polycarp not to observe it,
because he had always observed it with Yochanan the disciple
of our Lord, and the rest of the Apostles, with whom he associated;
and neither did Polycarp persuade Anicetus to observe,…”
(Ireaneus; quoted by Eusebius; Eccl. Hist. 5:24)

Then in 194 C.E. this conflict between Rome and Asia arose again when the Asian representative Polycrates of Ephesus wrote a letter to the Roman Bishop Victor. Eusebius describes the event this way:

A question of no small importance arose at that time. For the parishes of all Asia, as from an older tradition, held that the fourteenth day of the moon, on which day the Jews were commanded to sacrifice the lamb, should be observed as the feast of the Saviour's Passover...But it was not the custom of the churches in the rest of the world...But the bishops of Asia, led by Polycrates, decided to hold to the old custom handed down to them. He himself, in a letter which he addressed to Victor and the church of Rome, set forth in the following words the tradition which had come down to him.
(Eusebius,Eccl. Hist. 5:24).

Polycrates wrote as follows:

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'...I could mention the bishops who were present, whom I summoned at your desire; whose names, should I write them, would constitute a great multitude. And they, beholding my littleness, gave their consent to the letter, knowing that I did not bear my gray hairs in vain, but had always governed my life by the Lord Jesus
(Eusebius. Eccl. Hist. 5:24).

Bishop Victor attempted to cut off from the common unity Polycrates and others because they were observing Passover, but later reversed his decision after Irenaeus and others interceded.

At the Nicene Council the Roman Catholic Church decreed concerning “Easter”:

“It was decreed by common consent to be expedient, that this festival should be celebrated on the same day in every place… it seemed to everyone a most unworthy thing that we should follow the custom of the Jews in the celebration of this most holy solemnity, who, polluted wretches! Having stained their hands with a nefarious crime, are justly blinded in their minds. It is fit, therefore, that rejecting the practice of this people, we should perpetuate to all future ages the celebration of this rite, in a more legitimate order, which we have kept from the first day of our Lord’s passion even to the present times. Let us then have nothing in common with the most hostile rabble of the Jews. We have received another method from our Savior….”

In his Ecclesiastical History of the English Nation
Book 3 Chapter 25 Bede recounts that this controversy arose again in Scotland in the 7th Century C.E. between those who observed Passover on the 14th day after the New Moon and those who instead “deliver the sacraments of the New Testament, to be celebrated by the church, in memory of his passion.” (i.e. weekly Communion) and “Easter
Here we see several things. Paul kept the feasts and Sabbaths, as Jesus did, and this continued in the church for almost 200 years. Things started to shift within the Gentile congregations, and Rome took the lead with bishops gaining power beyond what the scriptures allow. The argument started out not, should we keep the feasts, but whether or not it would be OK to switch from the 14th of the month to the nearest Sunday. The reason for this was all the pagans and Gnostics that made up the majority of the population had been steeped in sun god worship for close to 2,000 years. They had been having the Easter Sunrise service and eating their hams for a long long time. This pressure to conform had gotten it’s way into the church early on. Once the last hold outs had died away, the Passover feast was changed to Sunday. It had always been the Lord’s Supper, once a year, just as Jesus set it up. We have no mention of Sunday weekly worship till later. This came about by the changing again of the feast of Passover to a weekly Sunday sunrise service and the taking of the Eucharist. Before the 3rd century the doctrine of transubstantiation was already formed by these same pagans pretending to be Christians. As is evidenced by the quote I put in all bold, they hated the Jews and rejected the Sabbath and the feast days of the Lord. This was done at the Nicene Council. Soon Constantine would come on the scene and laws would be passed to persecute those still holding to the ways of the Apostles.

The Council of Caesarea-Palestine (198): It is mentioned in the Commentarius de Aequinoctio[5] by the Venerable Bede (673 – 735) that the council of Caesarea was headed by Theophil, bishop of Caesarea, and Narcissus, bishop of Jerusalem, in the presence of Kassios, bishop of Akkar, Claros bishop of Akka (Acre), and others. The bishops discussed the issues concerning creation, and declared that the Lord’s Day is the first day of creation and that Saturday was the last. They then demonstrated how the spring is the first season of the year, and that the world was founded on the 25th of March, while the sun was in the middle of the East and the moon lunar. Then they began to set a date for the Passover, and decided that it fell on the Lord’s Day because darkness vanished on this day and the light rose, and because the people were liberated from captivity in the land of Egypt as if from the shadows of sin, and because the people were given heavenly food on that day, and because Moses decreed that it ought to be honored, and because the chanter said that this is the day on which we should rejoice and be glad since it is the day of the resurrection of the Lord.[6]

After all that was done, the bishops convening in Caesarea-Palestine wrote to their brethren in other churches encouraging them to send their confessions to the churches so “they may not become a reason to those who deceive themselves easily,” and they added: “We inform you that on the day we celebrate, those in Alexandria also celebrate, and that we have exchanged letters with them on this issue so that we may celebrate together on this holy day.”[7]
Victor and Polycrates: The schism reached the Church of Rome itself as a result of what Blastus preached, so Victor (185-197) quickly reassessed the situation and saw that it was for the benefit of the entire church to have a saying on the Passover. He thus wrote to Polycratus bishop of Ephesus on the issue, and he might have written to others as well. Victor, bishop of Rome, did not authoritatively order Polycratus regarding the issue, but pleaded with him as it appears. The word Polycratus used in discribing Victor’s wish to meet is exiosate, and this means to wish or desire. The original letter of Victor was lost.

What is confirmed is that the bishops of the East did have several local councils before the end of the second century in Caesarea-Palestine, Pontus, Galatia, Mesopotamia, and Corinth to discuss the issue of the Passover and came to one opinion, which is to observe the custom of commemorating the resurrection on Sunday and not suspend the fast except on that day.

Polycratus Bishop of Ephesus: Bishops in Asia Minor debated and demanded that old customs remain as they were; Polycratus, bishop of Ephesus, wrote to the bishop of Rome regarding that. Victor was enraged and wrote threatening with excommunication. Polycratus then assembled a local council in which fifty bishops participated, and after debate Polycratus wrote in the name of the council affirming that they do not add to the apostolic tradition nor omit from it, and that in their country reposes John who leaned on Jesus’ bosom, Philip who is one of the twelve, and Polycarp the Martyr, and that all of those kept the 14th for the Passover according to the Gospel. Polycratus addressed the Church of Rome saying: “I am the smallest among you, and since I have had sixty five years in the Lord, have met the brethren from all over the inhabited world, and read every holy book, I do not hesitate or fear, for those who are greater than I said that God is worthier of obedience than men. I could have mentioned the bishops assembled with me, whom you have wished that I should assemble, and I have, and they agreed with the letter because they knew that I have not taken this issue in vain but have always acted in the Lord.”[8]

That about sums up the history of the early church. The pagans who became the Catholic Church did away with the feasts and the Sabbath and replaced it with Sunday worship and Easter Sunday Sunrise service. Some might argue that the Sabbath shouldn’t be kept or the feasts, so the pagans got it right. Aside from the teaching in Hebrews:

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).

And Paul’s clear cut command here:
1Co 5:7 “Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us:
8 Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.”

Even though we have this and all the examples of Paul in Acts keeping feasts and Sabbaths, we have three passages that are used to say these things are no good. Let’s examine both:

Ga 4:8 Howbeit then, when ye knew not God, ye did service unto them which by nature are no gods.
9 But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage?
10 Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years.
11 I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain.

What were these Galatians converted from, Judaism or Paganism? “Howbeit then, when ye knew not God, ye did service unto them which by nature are no gods.” That being established, it should be clear what this means: “how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage?
10 Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years.” If they are turning back to where they came from, then that would be Paganism which has holy days and months and years all it’s own because it is the Devil’s counterfeit religion. The laws God set up for keeping time and the prophetic feast days would never be called weak and beggarly by a man who memorized the first five books of the bible at the age of 21 under the discipleship of Gamaliel. Some have tried to point out that still, Paul was getting on to them for keeping days, months, and years. If this can be taken out of context and still applied to Sabbath and feast days, consider what Paul is doing if that was what he meant. He keeps the feasts and the Sabbath, commands the Corinthians to keep the feast of Passover, and then tells his converts in Galatia he is afraid for them for doing the same and insults those laws as weak and beggarly. That is about the most hypocritical and absurd thing I can think of. Paul was no two faced hypocrite. With this in mind, let’s look at the next verse that is misunderstood:

Col 2:8 Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.
Col 2:16 Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days:
17 Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.
18 Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind,
19 And not holding the Head, from which all the body by joints and bands having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God.
20 Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances,
21 (Touch not; taste not; handle not;
22 Which all are to perish with the using;) after the commandments and doctrines of men?
23 Which things have indeed a shew of wisdom in will worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body; not in any honour to the satisfying of the flesh.

Who is doing the judging? Look up Jewish Gnostics on your google bar to find out. They are still doing these things today. They kept the same pagan feasts of good Friday, Easter, etc. Again, they were judging the converts of Paul in the way they were keeping the Sabbath and biblical feasts of the Lord. There is no need to insert the Judaizers into every passage of scripture. They don’t fit the shoe here. This was pagans. Instead of turning the meaning 180 degrees, this means don’t let them judge you for doing these things the way you are supposed to. Instead of don’t let them judge you for not doing these things. Look at verse 8 again to help: Col 2:8 Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. What is the tradition of these men? Pagan holy days. What is the way that would be following Christ? The biblical holy days and Sabbath which He kept perfectly.

We cover the rest of this chapter and the misunderstanding of verses 13 & 14 in another article called the Word on the Word part 2. Again, there is no need to insert the words “old law” where they don’t belong. It doesn’t fit the context nor the meanings of “handwriting” and “against us” and it was not what Jesus came to nail to the cross.

Another passage used to ditch the feasts and Sabbaths and Kosher eating is:

Ro 14:1 Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations.
2 For one believeth that he may eat all things: another, who is weak, eateth herbs.
3 Let not him that eateth despise him that eateth not; and let not him which eateth not judge him that eateth: for God hath received him.
4 Who art thou that judgest another man's servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand.
5 One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.
6 He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it. He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks.

The problem in the later part of the passage is not Kosher or unkosher, but about fasting (eating not). This goes back to the Jewish custom that is not law where they fasted two days of the week. Some got into arguments about what days this should be. The first of the passage is about eating vegetarian or not. There is nothing here for Kosher, Sabbath, or the feast days of the Lord.

"The Sabbath commandment is repeated nowhere in the New Testament, so we don't have to keep it (assuming you ignore Heb 4:3-11)."

This excuse for not keeping the Sabbath deserves an answer. It is one of the favorite arguments against the Sabbath. But surprise! It is also one of the best arguments for the Sabbath.
When we are blinded by religious tradition, the obvious is not always obvious. It should nevertheless be obvious that the very reason the Sabbath commandment was not repeated in the New Testament is that the people of that time and the writers of the gospels and epistles took the Sabbath for granted. The idea that one of the Ten Commandments would have been changed or done away was so unthinkable that it was unnecessary to repeat it. Indeed, not every commandment was repeated verbatim in the New Testament.
A prime example is Mark 10:19. When Jesus addressed the rich young ruler He gave a short list of the Ten Commandments. He only gave the last six. Does that mean that Jesus had done away with the first four, which explained how to love God? So we don't have to love God now? We only have to love our fellowman under the New Covenant? How ludicrous!
Religious Jews of that day made a big show of loving God, especially when it came to keeping the Sabbath and making sure everyone knew how strict they were in its observance. This young ruler needed to show love for his fellowman by giving. He needed to prove his love for God by giving to others. But Jesus knew the cost this would be for this man. He knew how to test him, giving him the list of the commandments he specifically needed to obey.
None of the first four commandments were repeated verbatim in the Greek Scriptures. You have to really hunt to find even veiled references to the first three commandments. You will find much more information and instruction about the Sabbath that about any of the first three commandments (See Mark 2:27-28 and look up gospel Sabbath references in a concordance).
Such an inter-relationship exists between the first four and last six commandments that you cannot separate them. John declared that you cannot love God if you don't love your brother (I John 4:20-21). And it works both ways (I John 5:2).
God is Love. Love is the same yesterday, today and forever. Love never fails. All of the aforementioned applies also to God's law, for it also is love (Rom. 13:10). The Sabbath can only change if God changes, but He says, "...I, the [Eternal], do not change..." (Mal 3:6).
Why No Uproar?
Have you ever wondered why you don't read about any change from Sabbath to Sunday in Acts? The greatest evidence that the Sabbath was not changed to Sunday in the early church is this: that change would have caused such colossal controversy that the book of Acts would have recorded it. Acts 15 speaks of the controversy over circumcision, but nothing is said about a Sabbath change to Sunday.
A change in the Sabbath would have caused an uproar.
No uproar. Rather, the silence roars.
Circumcision was an important physical covenant between God and His people, but it was physical. Moreover, God made this covenant with Abraham, long after the Sabbath had been given to man. The Sabbath was "made for man" (Mark 2:27). God set aside the seventh day as holy just after He created Adam. Why would He tell Israel to remember this day to keep it holy and why would He make it for man if He did not intend for man to remember it every week by observing it?
Circumcision was not a covenant made with all mankind as was the Sabbath. It was a health law that made Israel special to God. While its benefits have been recently proved to be a deterrent to AIDS and other diseases, it has nothing to do with salvation. This is why circumcision and other purely physical rituals of the Law of Moses were not imposed on Gentiles in the dispute of Acts 15. James even says that the Gentiles could easily hear what the council did impose on them by listening to those who preached the Law of Moses in the synagogues every Sabbath. Even Paul preached to Gentiles on the Sabbath day (Acts 13:42-44).
What is significant is that it was the issue of circumcision that caused a great kerfuffle in Acts. Not the Sabbath! The Sabbath was the first covenant made with man. It is not a physical sign like circumcision. In no way is it on the level of importance of one of the Ten Commandments.
Since almost every Christian at this writing keeps Sunday, Sabbath breaking does not seem like heresy. But it is! Historians are unanimous in noting that the early church in the Jerusalem area kept the Sabbath and the holy days of Leviticus 23. Yes, it is true that most of the church was composed of Jews who had become Christians. They did not, however, keep the feasts God called "My appointed times" (Lev. 23:2) because they were Jews, anymore than Jesus kept them because He was a Jew.
You can be sure - absolutely, unequivocally sure - that if all those Jews were forced to give up the Sabbath and the holy days when they became Christian, the uproar would have reached to high heaven and you would have heard about it! Had there been tabloids on the streets of Jerusalem at the time, venders would have shouted, "Christians change our Sabbath to Sunday! Read all about it!"
Had Jewish TV host Larry King gone back in time, he would have had all the Christian leaders on a panel to question them about this monumental change. Even Sunday-keeping theologians admit this fact (leaving Larry out, of course).
Might Makes Right?
Sabbath observance wasn't heresy in the early church. The problem was, the heretics who began keeping Sunday, initially in addition to the Sabbath, became more numerous than the true believers. In time the churches in the West centered in Rome gained power and persecuted the steadfast Sabbath keepers in the Judean birthplace of Christianity.
John, the apostle of love and the longest living apostle, mentored Polycarp, who was born sometime after Jerusalem's fall in 70 A.D. John died shortly after the turn of the first century, leaving Polycarp to follow his example. It is clear from church history that Polycarp kept the Sabbath and the holy days. Even though over 80 at the time, Polycarp traveled to Rome to oppose Anicetus in the Roman bishop's insistence that the church should keep Easter rather than Passover. Polycarp stood fast.
If you think Sunday observance was part of "the faith once delivered" to the saints, think again. Jesus trained John, who kept the Sabbath and the feasts. John mentored Polycarp, who kept the same. When Polycarp was martyred, the leadership of the Eastern church passed to Polycrates. He also traveled to Rome to face the anti-Passover, anti-feast (and thus, ultimately, the anti-Sabbath) heresy espoused by Victor I, then Bishop of Rome. But now it was the Roman branch of the church, soon to become the Roman Catholic Church, who held the most clout.
Victor threatened to excommunicate Polycarp's successor. Polycrates didn't budge. Of the Passover, He wrote [Roberts-Donaldson translation]: "As for us, then, we scrupulously observe the exact day, neither adding nor taking away." Referring to great luminaries in Asia who had died, including John, Philip and Polycarp, he added: "These all kept the passover on the fourteenth day of the month in accordance with the gospel, without ever deviating from it but keeping to the rule of faith...[his relatives and he, Polycrates] always observed the day when the people put away the leaven...Better people than I have said, 'We must obey God rather than men.'"
The real heretics became so strong in the physical, organized church that they called those who held fast to the true faith heretics. Those who oppose the Sabbath today greatly outnumber those who keep it.

I have an excell chart showing a Sunday early morning rising, before the sun dawns, is not possible. Email me for a copy.


  1. Wonderful post! I'll be linking to this entry from blog post I am writing for this week :-)

  2. Suzanne,
    I am so pleased that Stephanie B. put a link to your blog from hers! I really enjoyed this post, great information! Also great to see that I am not the only person who has leangthy posts, LOL!!! I look forward to meeting you at the Shavuot gathering this week-end!

  3. Thank you for doing the research and sharing. It has been really helpful for me, filling in more gaps of history ... and assisting in understanding ... just know that your sharing is very much appreciated.