How Sunday became the Day of Worship

  Roman Catholic and Protestant Statements
    About Sunday as the Day of Worship and Rest
 


Sunday, the first day of the week, has become the traditional day of worship since it was changed in 321AD  - about 1690 years ago. 

History  reveals that it was decades after the death of the apostles that a politico-religious system denied the validity of the Sabbath of Scripture and substituted the observance of the first day of the week.  

The first section of quotations, all from Roman Catholic sources, freely acknowledge that there is no Biblical authority for the observance of Sunday, that it was the Roman Church that changed the Sabbath to the first day of the week.                   

In the second portion of this article are quotations from Protestants.  Although these noted clergymen, scholars, and writers kept Sunday, they all admit that there is no Biblical authority for a first-day sabbath.


                        Roman Catholic Statements


James Cardinal Gibbons, Archbishop of Baltimore, The Faith of our Fathers, 88th ed., pp. 89.

"But 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." 

Stephen Keenan, A Doctrinal Catechism 3rd ed., p. 174.

"Question:  Have you any other way of proving that the Church has power to institute festivals of precept?

"Answer:  Had she not such power, she could not have done that in which all modern religionists agree with her-she could not have substituted the observance of Sunday, the first day of the week, for the observance of Saturday, the seventh day, a change for which there is no Scriptural authority."

John Laux, A Course in Religion for Catholic High Schools and Academies (1936), vol. 1, P. 51.

"Some theologians have held that God likewise directly determined the Sunday as the day of worship in the New Law, that He Himself has explicitly substituted the Sunday for the Sabbath. But this theory is now entirely abandoned. It is now commonly held that God simply gave His Church the power to set aside whatever day or days she would deem suitable as Holy Days. The Church chose Sunday, the first day of the week, and in the course of time added other days as holy days."

Daniel Ferres, ed., Manual of Christian Doctrine (1916), p.67.

"Question: How prove you that the Church hath power to command feasts and holy days?

"Answer. By the very act of changing the Sabbath into Sunday, which Protestants allow of, and therefore they fondly contradict themselves, by keeping Sunday strictly, and breaking most other feasts commanded by the same Church.'

James Cardinal Gibbons, Archbishop of Baltimore (1877-1921), in a signed letter.

"Is Saturday the seventh day according to the Bible and the Ten Commandments? I answer yes. Is Sunday the first day of the week and did the Church change the seventh day -Saturday - for Sunday, the first day? I answer yes . Did Christ change the day'? I answer no!

"Faithfully yours, J. Card. Gibbons"

The Catholic Mirror, official publication of James Cardinal Gibbons, Sept. 23, 1893.

"The Catholic Church, . . . by virtue of her divine mission, changed the day from Saturday to Sunday."

To read the complete series of Catholic Mirror articles on this topic go to the end of this page.

Catholic Virginian Oct. 3, 1947, p. 9, art. "To Tell You the Truth."

"For example, nowhere in the Bible do we find that Christ or the Apostles ordered that the Sabbath be changed from Saturday to Sunday. We have the commandment of God given to Moses to keep holy the Sabbath day, that is the 7th day of the week, Saturday. Today most Christians keep Sunday because it has been revealed to us by the[Roman Catholic] church outside the Bible."

Peter Geiermann, C.S.S.R., The Converts Catechism of Catholic Doctrine (1957), p. 50.

"Question: Which is the Sabbath day?

"Answer: Saturday is the Sabbath day.

"Question: Why do we observe Sunday instead of Saturday?

"Answer. We observe Sunday instead of Saturday because the Catholic Church, in the Council of Laodicia,       (AD 336)  transferred the solemnity from Saturday to Sunday."

Martin J. Scott, Things Catholics Are Asked About (1927),p. 136.

"Nowhere in the Bible is it stated that worship should be changed from Saturday to Sunday .... Now the Church ... instituted, by God's authority, Sunday as the day of worship. This same Church, by the same divine authority, taught the doctrine of Purgatory long before the Bible was made. We have, therefore, the same authority for Purgatory as we have for Sunday."

Peter R. Kraemer, Catholic Church Extension Society (1975),Chicago, Illinois.

"Regarding the change from the observance of the Jewish Sabbath to the Christian Sunday, I wish to draw your attention to the facts:

"1) That Protestants, who accept the Bible as the only rule of faith and religion, should by all means go back to the observance of the Sabbath. The fact that they do not, but on the contrary observe the Sunday, stultifies them in the eyes of every thinking man.

"2) We Catholics do not accept the Bible as the only rule of faith. Besides the Bible we have the living Church, the authority of the Church, as a rule to guide us. We say, this Church, instituted by Christ to teach and guide man through life, has the right to change the ceremonial laws of the Old Testament and hence, we accept her change of the Sabbath to Sunday. We frankly say, yes, the Church made this change, made this law, as she made many other laws, for instance, the Friday abstinence, the unmarried priesthood, the laws concerning mixed marriages, the regulation of Catholic marriages and a thousand other laws.

"It is always somewhat laughable, to see the Protestant churches, in pulpit and legislation, demand the observance of Sunday, of which there is nothing in their Bible.”

The Pastor's page of The Sentinel, Saint Catherine Catholic Church, Algonac, Michigan, May 21, 1995 

 "Perhaps the boldest thing, the most revolutionary change the [Catholic] Church ever did,... The holy day, the Sabbath, was changed from Saturday to Sunday. "The Day of the Lord" (dies domini) was chosen, not from any directions noted in the Scriptures, but from the Church's sense of its own power. The day of resurrection, the day of Pentecost, fifty days later, came on the first day of the week. So this would be the new Sabbath. People who think that the Scriptures should be the sole authority, should logically become 7th Day Adventists, and keep Saturday holy.” 

Catholic Press, Sydney, Australia, August, 1990

"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." 


Editor's note:

The Sabbath was created many centurues before the Jewish nation existed. It was created on the 7th day of the creation week. Genesis 2: 2,3 says  "And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done.  Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made."

Also, the Sabbath commandment was written by the finger of God (Exodus 31:18).  The ceremonial laws were handwritten by Moses (Deut 31: 9, 24-26) and were nailed to the Cross (Col 2:14).


T. Enright, C.S.S.R., in a lecture at Hartford, Kansas, Feb. 18,1884.

"I have repeatedly offered $1,000 to anyone who can prove to me from the Bible alone that I am bound to keep Sunday holy. There is no such law in the Bible. It is a law of the holy Catholic Church alone. The Bible says, 'Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy.' 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 a reverent obedience to the command of the holy Catholic Church.”

The Catholic Encyclopedia says

“The Church, on the other hand, after changing the day of rest from the Jewish Sabbath, or seventh day of the week, to the first, made the Third Commandment refer to Sunday as the day to be kept holy as the Lord’s Day. 


The church historian Socrates writes:

“For although almost all churches throughout the world celebrate the sacred mysteries on the Sabbath of every week, yet the Christians of Alexandria and at Rome, on account of some ancient tradition, have ceased to do this.”



                                              Protestant  Statements

Protestant theologians and preachers from a wide spectrum of denominations have been quite candid in admitting that there is no Biblical authority for observing Sunday as a sabbath.


Anglican/Episcopal

Isaac Williams, Plain Sermons on the Catechism , vol. 1, pp.334, 336.

"And where are we told in the Scriptures that we are to keep the first day at all? We are commanded to keep the seventh; but we are nowhere commanded to keep the first day .... The reason why we keep the first day of the week holy instead of the seventh is for the same reason that we observe many other things, not because the Bible, but because the church has enjoined it."

Canon Eyton, The Ten Commandments , pp. 52, 63, 65.

"There is no word, no hint, in the New Testament about abstaining from work on Sunday .... into the rest of Sunday no divine law enters.... The observance of Ash Wednesday or Lent stands exactly on the same footing as the observance of Sunday."

Bishop Seymour, Why We Keep Sunday .

We have made the change from the seventh day to the first day, from Saturday to Sunday, on the authority of the one holy Catholic Church."

Baptist

Dr. Edward T. Hiscox, a paper read before a New York ministers' conference, Nov. 13, 1893, reported in New York Examiner , Nov.16, 1893.

"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.

"To me it seems unaccountable that Jesus, during three years' intercourse with His disciples, often conversing with them upon the Sabbath question . . . never alluded to any transference of the day; also, that during forty days of His resurrection life, no such thing was intimated.

"Of course, I quite well know that Sunday did come into use in early Christian history . . . . But what a pity it comes branded with the mark of paganism, and christened with the name of the sun god, adopted and sanctioned by the papal apostasy, and bequeathed as a sacred legacy to Protestantism!"

William Owen Carver, The Lord's Day in Our Day , p. 49.

"There was never any formal or authoritative change from the Jewish seventh-day Sabbath to the Christian first-day observance."

Southern Baptist 

Adult Quarterly, Southern Baptist Convention series, August 15, 1937.

"The first four commandments set forth man's obligations directly toward God....The fourth commandment sets forth God's claim on man's time and thought....Not one of the ten words [commandments] is of merely racial significance....The Sabbath was established originally [long before Moses] in no special connection with the Hebrews, but as an institution for all mankind, in commemoration of God's rest after six days of creation. It was designed for all the descendants of Adam."

Joseph Judson Taylor, The Sabbath Question, p. 14-17, 41.

 "The sacred name of the Seventh day is Sabbath.  This fact is too clear to require argument.  (Exodus 20:10 quoted)....On this point the plain teaching of the Word has been admitted in all ages....Not once did the disciples apply the Sabbath law to the first day of the week--that folly was left for a later age, nor did they pretend that the first day supplanted the seventh."

Christian Church

 Alexander Campbell, in The Washington Reporter, October 8, 1921.

  "I do not believe...that the Sabbath was changed from the seventh to the first day, for this plan reason, where there is no testimony, there can be no faith.  Now there is no testimony in all the oracles of heaven that the Sabbath is changed, or that the Lord's Day came in the room of it....There is no divine testimony that the Sabbath was changed..." 

Church of Christ

G. Alridge, Editor, The Bible Standard, April, 1916

"... If the fourth command is binding upon us Gentiles by all means keep it. But let those who demand a strict observance of the Sabbath remember that the seventh day is the ONLY sabbath day commanded, and God never repealed that command. If you would keep the Sabbath, keep it; but Sunday is not the Sabbath. The argument of the 'Seventh-day Adventists' is on one point unassailable. It is the Seventh day not the first day that the command refers to." 

Robert Milligan, Scheme of Redemption, (St. Louis, The Fethany Press, 1962), p. 165.

 "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...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." 

Bible Standard, May, 1916, Auckland, New Zealand

"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. ..."

Church of England

Bishop Jeremy Taylor, Ductor Dubitantium; cited in Source Book For Bible Students, p. 577

  "The Lord's day (or Sunday to him) did not succeed in the place of the Sabbath, but the Sabbath was wholly abrogated, and the Lord's day was merely an ecclesiastical institution.  It was not introduced by virtue of the fourth commandment, because they (early Christians) for almost three hundred years together kept that day which was in that commandment." 

Canon Eyton, The Ten Commandments, p. 52, 63, 65.

 "There is no word, no hint in the New Testament about abstaining from work on Sunday....Into the rest of Sunday no divine law enters....The observance of Ash Wednesday or Lent stands on exactly the same footing as the observance of Sunday." 

Pastor Lionel Beere, in Church and People, September 1, 1947.

  "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, and if it were binding on us then we should observe it on that day, and on no other." 

Congregationalist

Dr. R. W. Dale, The Ten Commandments (New York: Eaton &Mains), p. 127-129.

" . . . it is quite clear that however rigidly or devotedly we may spend Sunday, we are not keeping the Sabbath - . . 'Me Sabbath was founded on a specific Divine command. We can plead no such command for the obligation to observe Sunday .... There is not a single sentence in the New Testament to suggest that we incur any penalty by violating the supposed sanctity of Sunday."

Timothy Dwight, Theology: Explained and Defended (1823), Ser. 107, vol. 3, p. 258.

" . . . the Christian Sabbath [Sunday] is not in the Scriptures, and was not by the primitive Church called the Sabbath."

Buck's Theological Dictionary page 403

"It must be confessed that there is no law in the New Testament concerning the first day."

ORIN FOWLER, A.M., "Mode and Subjects of Baptism

"There is no command in the Bible requiring us to observe the first day of the week as the Christian Sabbath."

American Congregationalist 

Dr. Layman Abbot, in Christian Union, June 26, 1890 (January 19, 1882)

   "The current notion that Christ and His apostles authoritatively substituted the first day of the week for the seventh, is absolutely without any authority in the New Testament."

Disciples of Christ

Dr. D.H. Lucas, in Christian Oracle, January 23, 1890.

 "There is no direct Scriptural authority for designating the first day 'the Lord's Day.'"

Alexander Campbell, The Christian Baptist, Feb. 2, 1824,vol. 1. no. 7, p. 164.

"'But,' say some, 'it was changed from the seventh to the first day.' Where? when? and by whom? No man can tell. No; it never was changed, nor could it be, unless creation was to be gone through again: for the reason assigned must be changed before the observance, or respect to the reason, can be changed! It is all old wives' fables to talk of the change of the Sabbath from the seventh to the first day. If it be changed, it was that august personage changed it who changes times and laws ex officio - I think his name is Doctor Antichrist.'

First Day Observance , pp. 17, 19.

"The first day of the week is commonly called the Sabbath. This is a mistake. The Sabbath of the Bible was the day just preceding the first day of the week. The first day of the week is never called the Sabbath anywhere in the entire Scriptures. It is also an error to talk about the change of the Sabbath from Saturday to Sunday. There is not in any place in the Bible any intimation of such a change."

Episcopalian

 Bishop Symour, Why We Keep Sunday, Article 12.

 "We have made the change from the seventh day to the first day, from Saturday to Sunday, on the authority of the one holy, catholic, apostolic church of Christ."

A Religious Encyclopedia, vol. 3, (New York, Funk and Wagnalls, 1883) p. 2259, Article "Sunday".

 "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." 

 Philip Carrington, Archbishop of Quebec, Canada, in Toronto Daily Star, October 26, 1949.

"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."

Hobart Church News, July 2, 1894.

"The observance of the first day instead of the seventh day rests in the testimony of the Catholic church and the church alone." 

Protestant Episcopalian 

Explanation of Catechism.

  "The day is now changed from the seventh to the first day....but as we meet with no Scriptural direction for the change, we may conclude it was done by the authority of the church."

Lutheran

The Sunday Problem , a study book of the United Lutheran Church (1923), p. 36.

"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 possession of the church. We have seen that the Christians of the first three centuries never confused one with the other, but for a time celebrated both."

Augsburg Confession of Faith art. 28; written by Melanchthon, approved by Martin Luther, 1530; as published in The Book of Concord of the Evangelical Lutheran Church Henry Jacobs, ed. (1 91 1), p. 63.

"They [Roman Catholics] refer to the Sabbath Day, as having been changed into the Lord's Day, contrary to the Decalogue, as it seems. Neither is there any example whereof they make more than concerning the changing of the Sabbath Day. Great, say they, is the power of the Church, since it has dispensed with one of the Ten Commandments!"

Dr. Augustus Neander, The History of the Christian Religion and ChurchHenry John Rose, tr. (1843), p. 186.

"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."

John Theodore Mueller, Sabbath or Sunday , pp. 15, 16.

"But they err in teaching that Sunday has taken the place of the Old Testament Sabbath and therefore must be kept as the seventh day had to be kept by the children of Israel .... These churches err in their teaching, for Scripture has in no way ordained the first day of the week in place of the Sabbath. There is simply no law in the New Testament to that effect."

Lutheran Free Church

George Sverdrup, A New Day.

"For when there could not be produced one solitary place in the Holy Scriptures which testified that either the Lord Himself or the apostles had ordered such a transfer of the Sabbath to Sunday, then it was not easy to answer the question: Who has transferred the Sabbath, and who has had the right to do it?"

Pentacostal

 David A. Womack, "Is Sunday the Lord's Day?" in The Pentecostal Evangel, August 9, 1959, #2361, p. 3.

"'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."

Methodist

Harris Franklin Rall, Christian Advocate, July 2, 1942, p.26.

"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."

John Wesley, The Works of the Rev. John Wesley, A.M., John Emory, ed. (New York: Eaton & Mains), Sermon 25,vol. 1, p. 221.

"But, the moral law contained in the ten commandments, and enforced by the prophets, he [Christ] did not take away. It was not the design of his coming to revoke any part of this. This is a law which never can be broken .... Every part of this law must remain in force upon all mankind, and in all ages; as not depending either on time or place, or any other circumstances liable to change, but on the nature of God and the nature of man, and their unchangeable relation to each other."

E. O. Haven, Pillars of Truth, p. 88.

"The Sabbath was made for man; not for the Hebrews, but for all men."

 Clovis G. Chappell, Ten Rules For Living, p. 61.

"The reason we observe the first day instead of the seventh is based on no positive command.  One will search the Scriptures in vain for authority for changing from the seventh day to the first."

Amos Binney, Theological Compendium, p. 180-81.

"It is true there is no positive command for infant baptism...Nor is there any for keeping holy the first day of the week.  Many believe that Christ changed the Sabbath.  But from His own words, we see that He came for no such purpose.  Those who believe that Jesus changed the Sabbath base it only on supposition."

Adam Clarke, The New Testament of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, vol. 2, p. 524.

 "There is no intimation here that the Sabbath was done away, or that its moral use superseded, by the introduction of Christianity.  I have shown elsewhere that, 'Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy,' is a command of perpetual obligation."

Harris Franklin Rall, in Christian Advocate, July 2, 1942, p. 26.

 "Take the matter of Sunday....there is no [New Testament] passage telling Christians to keep that day, or to transfer the Jewish Sabbath to that day." 

Dwight L. Moody

D. L. Moody, Weighed and Wanting (Fleming H. Revell Co.: New York), pp. 47, 48.

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?"

Presbyterian

T. C. Blake, D.D., Theology Condensed, pp.474, 475.

"The Sabbath is a part of the decalogue - the Ten Commandments. This alone forever settles the question as to the perpetuity of the institution . . . . 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."Robert Milligan, Scheme of Redemption, (St. Louis, The Fethany Press, 1962), p. 165.

Works of Jonathan Edwards, vol. 4, p. 621.

 "A further argument for the perpetuity of the Sabbath we have in Matthew 24:20, Pray ye that your flight be not in the winter neither on the Sabbath day.  But the final destruction of Jerusalem was after the Christian dispensation was fully set up.  Yet it is plainly implied in these words of the Lord that even then Christians were bound to strict observation of the Sabbath." 

Thomas Chalmers, D. D., Sermons, vol. 1, p. 51.

"For the permanency of the Sabbath, we might argue for its place in the decalogue, where it stands enshrined among the moralities of a rectitude that is immutable and everlasting."



The issue here is not the day of the week. The issue is authority. 

Whose authority will we fall under—the Bible (John 14:15; Revelation 14:12) or human tradition (Matthew 5:19; Mark 7:9)? 

The Roman Catholic Church keeps the Ten Commandments as taught by St. Augustine, which are different from those found in the Bible. Catholic Catechism says this:

The division and numbering of the Commandments have varied in the course of history. The present catechism follows the division of the Commandments established by St. Augustine, which has become traditional in the Catholic Church.

The Sabbath Commandment—the one removed by Catholicism—is the Commandment that serves as a seal, authenticating the law and showing the authority of God. 

However, the Catholic Church sees Sunday as its mark of authorityRome freely admits and even proudly proclaims that it is responsible for Sunday worship, asserting that all other Protestants who worship on Sunday are under Rome’s authority whether or not they deem it so.


Whew! How did all this happen?

Read the online book for the answer

National Sunday Law



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Is Sunday Really Sacred? 

One of David’s most beautiful prayers is recorded in Psalm 43:3. “O send out thy light and thy truth: let them lead me; let them bring me unto thy holy hill, and to thy tabernacles.”

This same earnest petition to understand God’s Word should be in the heart of every sincere seeker for truth. A willingness to learn and to obey must characterize all of those who expect to be enlightened by the Holy Spirit. To such, the beautiful promise of the beatitude will be fulfilled. “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled” (...

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Sabbath Across the Centuries - From the First Century to Current Times



Monument in Time Discovering the Joy of the Sabbath