The Truth About The Sabbath
Updated: Apr 25, 2020
The Bible mentions the Sabbath in both the Old and New Testaments, but what day is the Sabbath? Is the Sabbath, the day of worship and rest, on Sunday or is it Saturday? What does the Bible say? What do the different Christian denominations say on this topic?
The Sabbath was one of the institutions implemented at creation, in addition to marriage between a man and a woman. This can be seen in Genesis 2:1-3, where God rested on the seventh day, then blessed and sanctified that day.
What is the seventh day? We can see the answer to that in the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20:8-11. Here we can see that the seventh day is the Sabbath day and that God expects us to worship and rest on that day. Note: We are expected to worship every day, but there is only one day that God set aside for both worship and REST.
Ok, so the seventh day is the Sabbath, but we still don’t know whether the seventh day is Saturday or Sunday. Lets go to Luke 23:54-56. Here in verse 54, we can see that Jesus died on Friday (commonly referred to as Good Friday). In the King James Version it says “…that day was the preparation…” Friday is called the preparation day because we are to prepare for the Sabbath.
Now look at Luke 24:1, where it says that the woman came to the tomb on the “first day of the week” to continue to prepare the body of Jesus with spices. Jesus rose on Sunday (commonly referred to as Easter Sunday). So the first day of the week is Sunday.
If Jesus died on Friday and rose on Sunday, what day of the week is in-between? Saturday. In Luke 23:56 we can see that the woman stopped preparing the body of Jesus to observe (rest on) the Sabbath day “according to the commandment”. So Jesus died on Friday, rested in the tomb on the Sabbath (Saturday) and then rose on Sunday.
So the Sabbath is Saturday, the seventh day of the week. Look at a calendar, the majority of them have Sunday on the left as the first day of the week and Saturday on the right as the seventh day of the week.
Ok, so the seventh day is the Sabbath, which is Saturday. So why do most Christians worship and observe the Sabbath on Sunday? Actually, the majority of Christian denominations know that the true Sabbath is Saturday and not Sunday and that the day of worship was changed by the Catholic church.
Here are some statements from different Christian denominations.
Episcopal: “Is there any command in the New Testament to change the day of weekly rest from Saturday to Sunday? None.” Manual of Christian Doctrine, p. 127.
Episcopal: “We have made a change from the seventh day to the first day, from Saturday to Sunday, on the authority of the one holy Catholic and apostolic church of Christ.” Why we keep Sunday, p. 28.
Episcopal: “Sunday (Dies Solis, of the Roman calendar, ‘day of the sun,’ because dedicated to the sun), the first day of the week, was adopted by the early Christians as a day of worship…No regulations for its observance are laid down in the New Testament, nor, indeed, is its observance even enjoined.” “Sunday”, A Religious Encyclopedia, Vol. 3, (New York, Funk and Wagnalls, 1883), p. 2259.
Lutheran: “The observance of the Lord’s day (Sunday) is founded not on any command of God, but on the authority of the church.” Augsburg Confession of Faith, quoted in Catholic Sabbath Manual, Part 2, Chapter 1, Section 10.
Lutheran: “We have seen how gradually the impression of the Jewish Sabbath faded from the mind of the Christian church, and how completely the newer thought underlying the observance of the first day took possesion of the church. We have seen that the Christian of the first three centuries never confused one with the other, but for a time celebrated both.” The Sunday Problem, a study book by the Lutheran Church (1923) p.36
Presbyterian: “A change of the day to be observed from the last day of the week to the first. There is no record, no express command, authorizing this change.” N. L. Rice, The Christian Sabbath, p. 60.
Presbyterian: “Until, therefore, it can be shown that the whole moral law has been repealed, the Sabbath will stand…The teaching of Christ confirms the perpetuity of the Sabbath.” T. C. Blake, D.D., Theology Condensed, pp. 474-475.
Methodist: “Take the matter of Sunday. There are indications in the New Testament as to how the church came to keep the first day of the week as its day of worship, but there is no passage telling Christians to keep that day, or to transfer the Jewish Sabbath to that day.” Harris Franklin Rall, Christian Advocate, July 2, 1942.
Congregationalist: “It is quite clear that however rigidly or devoutly we spend Sunday, we are not keeping the Sabbath…There is not a single sentence in the New Testament to suggest that we incur any penalty by violating the supposed sanctity of Sunday.” Dr. R. W. Dale, The Ten Commandments, pp. 100-101.
Congregationalist: “The Christian Sabbath (Sunday) is not in the Scriptures, and was not by the primitive church called the Sabbath.” Dwight’s Theology, Vol. 4, p. 401.
Anglican: “Many people think that Sunday is the Sabbath, but neither in the New Testament nor in the early church, is there anything to suggest that we have any right to transfer the observance of the seventh day of the week to the first. The Sabbath was and is Saturday and not Sunday…” Rev. Lionel Beere, Church and People, September 1, 1947.
Anglican: “Reverend Philip Carrington, Anglican Archbishop of Quebec, sent local clergymen into a huddle today by saying outright that there was nothing to support Sunday being kept holy. Carrington definitely told a church meeting in this city of straightlaced protestantism that tradition, not the Bible, had made Sunday the day of worship.” Toronto Daily Star, October 26, 1949.
Anglican: “The Bible commandment says on the seventh-day thou shalt rest. That is Saturday. Nowhere in the Bible is it laid down that worship should be done on Sunday.” Phillip Carrington, quoted in Toronto Daily Star, Oct 26, 1949 [Carrington (1892-), Anglican archbishop of Quebec, spoke the above in a message on this subject delivered to a packed assembly of clergymen. It was widely reported at the time in the news media].
Baptist: “There was and is a commandment to keep holy the Sabbath day, but that Sabbath day was not Sunday…It will be said, however, and with some show of triumph, that the Sabbath was transferred from the seventh to the first day of the week…Where can the record of such a transaction be found? Not in the New Testament – absolutely not. There is no scriptural evidence of the change of the Sabbath institution from the seventh to the first day of the week.” Dr. Edward T. Hiscox, author of The Baptist Manual, in a paper read before a New York ministers’ conference held November 13, 1893.
Church of Christ: “Finally, we have the testimony of Christ on this subject. In Mark 2:27, he says: ‘The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.’ From this passage it is evident that the Sabbath was made not merely for the Israelites, as Paley and Hengstenberg would have us believe, but for man…that is, for the race. Hence we conclude that the Sabbath was sanctified from the beginning, and that it was given to Adam, even in Eden, as one of those primeval institutions that God ordained for the happiness of all men.” Robert Milligan, Scheme of Redemption, St. Louis, The Bethany Press, 1962, p. 165.
Church of Christ: “But we do not find any direct command from God, or instruction from the risen Christ, or admonition from the early apostles, that the first day is to be substituted for the seventh day Sabbath.” “Let us be clear on this point. Though to the Christian ‘that day, the first day of the week’ is the most memorable of all days … there is no command or warrant in the New Testament for observing it as a holy day.” “The Roman Church selected the first day of the week in honour of the resurrection of Christ. …” Bible Standard, May, 1916, Auckland, New Zealand.
Moody Bible Institute: “The Sabbath was binding in Eden, and it has been in force ever since. This fourth commandment begins with the word ‘remember’, showing that the Sabbath already existed when God wrote the law on the tables of stone at Sinai. How can men claim that this one commandment has been done away with when they will admit that the other nine are still binding?” D. L. Moody, Weighed and Wanting, p. 47.
Pentecostal: “Why do we worship on Sunday? Doesn’t the Bible teach us that Saturday should be the Lord’s Day?”…Apparently we will have to seek the answer from some other source than the New Testament.” David A. Womack, “Is Sunday the Lord’s Day?”, The Pentecostal Evangel, August 9, 1959, No. 2361, p. 3.
Wow, so the majority of Christian denominations admit that there is no Scripture or commandment of God that changes the day of worship from Saturday to Sunday. If there is no biblical reason for the change, then how did it change?
Here are some statements from the Catholic church:
“The Pope has power to change times, to abrogate laws, and to dispense with all things, even the precepts of Christ.” Decretal De Translate. Espiscop. Cap.
“The Pope’s will stand for reason. He can dispense above the law; and of wrong make right, by correcting and changing laws.” Pope Nicholas, Dist. 96, Quoted in “Facts for the Times.” pp 55-56, 1893.
“We observe Sunday instead of Saturday because the Catholic Church transferred the solemnity from Saturday to Sunday.” The Convert’s Catechism of Catholic doctrine, 1957, p 50.
“Sunday is our mark of authority…The Church is above the Bible, and this transference of Sabbath observance is proof of that fact.” Catholic Record, September 1, 1923.
“She took the pagan Sunday and made it the Christian Sunday…and thus the pagan Sunday, dedicated to Balder, became the Christian Sunday sacred to Jesus” Catholic World, March 1894, p. 809.
“Of course the Catholic church claims that the change was her act, and the act is a MARK of her ecclesiastical power.” Fatih of our fathers, Cardinal Gibbons.
“The Bible says remember that thou keep holy the Sabbath day. The Catholic church says No! By my divine power I abolish the Sabbath day and command you to keep holy the first day of the week. And lo the entire civilized world bows down in reverent obedience to the command of the holy Catholic church.” Father Enright, American Sentinal, June 1893.
Pope Pius 1566 commanded by council of Trent. “It pleased the church of God that the religious celebration of the Sabbath day should be transferred to the Lord’s day (Sunday).” Catechismus Romanus, 1867, Chapter 3.
“Sunday is a Catholic institution, and its claims to observance can be defended only on Catholic principles…From the beginning to the end of Scripture there is not a single passage which warrants the transfer of weekly public worship from the last day of the week to the first.” Catholic Press (Sydney), August 25, 1900.
“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.” James Cardinal Gibbons, The Fatih of our Fathers, p. 89.
“The Christian Sabbath is therefore to this day the acknowledged offspring of the Catholic church, as spouse of the Holy Ghost, without a word of remonstrance from the protestant world.” The Catholic Mirror, September 23, 1893.
“If Protestants would follow the Bible, they should worship God on the Sabbath Day. In keeping the Sunday they are following a law of the Catholic Church.” Albert Smith, Chancellor of the Archdiocese of Baltimore, replying for the Cardinal in a letter dated February 10, 1920.
“Protestantism, in discarding the authority of the Roman (Catholic) Church, has no good reason for its Sunday theory, and ought logically to keep Saturday as the Sabbath.” John Gilmary Shea, in the “American Catholic Quarterly Review”, January 1883.
Not the Creator of the Universe, in Genesis 2:1-3, but the Catholic Church “can claim the honor of having granted man a pause to his work every seven days.” S. C. Mosna, “Storia della Domenica”, 1969, pp. 366-367.
“Reason and common sense demand the acceptance of One or the other of these alternatives: either Protestantism and the keeping holy of Saturday, or Catholicity and the keeping holy of Sunday. Compromise is impossible.” The Catholic Mirror, December 23, 1893.
“It is well to remind the Presbyterians, Baptists, Methodists, and all other Christians, that the Bible does not support them anywhere in their observance of Sunday. Sunday is an institution of the Roman Catholic Church, and those who observe the day observe a commandment of the Catholic Church.” Priest Brady, in an address, reported in the Elizabeth, NJ ‘News’ on March 18, 1903.
“Deny the authority of the Church and you have no adequate or reasonable explanation or justification for the substitution of Sunday for Saturday in the Third – Protestant Fourth – Commandment of God… The Church is above the Bible, and this transference of Sabbath observance is proof of that fact.” Catholic Record, September 1, 1923.
“Sunday is founded not on Scripture, but on tradition, and is a distinctly Catholic institution.” Catholic Record, September 17, 1893.
“The New Testament makes no explicit mention that the apostles changed the day of worship, but we know it from tradition.” The New Revised Baltimore Catechism, 1949, p. 139.
“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 command of Christ, but by its own authority.” Canon and Tradition, p. 263.
“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…not from any directions 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 become 7th Day Adventists, and keep Saturday holy.” Saint Catherine Catholic Church Sentinel, May 21, 1995.
So the Catholic church changed the day of rest/worship from Saturday to Sunday on their own and not from any commandment from God or from Scripture. The protestant churches that broke away from the Catholic church kept Sunday as their day of worship even though there was no biblical reason for worshipping on Sunday.
Those same protestant churches claim that the Bible is their sole authority in terms of doctrine, and yet, they follow man-made traditions such as Sunday worship.
“But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” Matthew 15:9.
I encourage you to do your own research and personal Bible study on this topic. You will see that the day of worship/rest was not changed by God or the Bible. So do you follow God or do you follow man-made traditions?
“…choose you this day whom ye will serve…but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:15.
“…We ought to obey God rather than men.” Acts 5:29.
"Remember to read your Bible,
accept the TRUTH,
and be a LIGHT in this dark world.”