What vow did God make?
"My covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing that is gone out of my lips". Psalm 89:34
What is God's unbreakable covenant?
"And he declared unto you his covenant, which he commanded you to perform, even ten commandments: and he wrote them upon two tables of stone". Deuteronomy 4:13
Note: God vowed that He would never alter or change His Covenant Law. If any change has been attempted, it certainly was not done by Jesus, for He Himself said, "Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven". Matthew 5:17-19.
Eight New Testament Texts
Note: In the Bible, Sunday is always referred to as the first day of the week, and there are only eight Scripture references in the New Testament which mention the first day of the week. If there is a command to keep Sunday holy it should be found in one of these Bible passages.
Below are five of the New Testament first day texts. Do any of these texts suggest that Sunday, the first day of the week, is to be considered holy?
1. "In the end of the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulcher". Matthew 28:1
2. "And when the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, had bought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint him. And very early in the morning the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulcher at the rising of the sun". Mark 16:1,2
3. "Now when Jesus was risen early the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had cast seven devils". Mark 16:9
4. "Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulcher, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them". Luke 24:1
5. "The first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulcher, and seeth the stone taken away from the sepulcher". John 20:1
The sixth first day text involves a gathering of the disciples on the evening of the resurrection day. According to the passage, why were they assembled?
6. "Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you". John 20:19
Note: Some claim the disciples had gathered to keep holy the first day of the week in honor of the resurrection. However, Mark explains that the disciples did not even believe Jesus had been raised from the dead until He appeared in their midst that evening! "Afterward he appeared unto the eleven... and upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen him after he was risen". Mark 16:14.
The seventh first day text involves contributions requested by Paul for the poor:
7. "Now concerning the collection for the saints... Upon the first day of the week let every on of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come". 1.Corinthians 16:1,2
Note: Paul was not suggesting changing the Sabbath in order to receive a public collection at a Sunday service. Rather, Paul's desire was that collections be done during the week so that he could devote more time to teaching and preaching on Sabbath!
The eighth, and final first day text, deals with a farewell meeting Paul held on the first day of the week:
8. "And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight. And there were many lights in the upper chamber, where they were gathered together". Acts 20:7,8
Note: The fact that the disciples broke bread at this meeting does not indicate that the day was holy, since the early believers broke bread every day of the week: "And they, continuing daily.., breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness". Acts 2:46. Notice also that the meeting took place at night since verse 8 says, "There were many lights in the upper chamber". In the previous lesson, it was noted that a day, according to the Bible, is measured from sundown to sundown. (See previous chapter - bible answers). The dark part of the day, or evening, comes first in the Bible, then comes the light part, (Genesis 1:5,8,13). Paul called this meeting for the dark part of Sunday, which is what we now call Saturday night. The Good News Bible translates this text as follows: "On Saturday evening we gathered together for the fellowship meal. Paul spoke to the people and kept speaking until midnight, Saturday night, since he planned to leave the next day". The book of Acts records eighty-four Sabbath meetings, but only one Saturday night meeting. Should this be construed as a command to change the day of worship?
But most Christians observe Sunday rather than Sabbath; when did the change take place?
Note: Early in the fourth century A.D., the Emperor Constantine issued a decree making Sunday a public festival throughout the Roman Empire. The day of the sun (SUNday) was reverenced by his pagan subjects and was honored by some Christians. "It was the emperor's policy to unite the conflicting interests of heathenism and Christianity. He was urged to do this by the bishops of the church, who, inspired by ambition and thirst for power, perceived that if the same day was observed by both Christians and heathen, it would promote the nominal acceptance of Christianity by pagans and thus advance the power and glory of the church". E.G.White, The Great Controversy, page 53.
Afterward, in the year 364 AD., at the Council of Laodicea, the Catholic Church approved the change of the day of worship and commanded everyone to keep Sunday as the holy day instead of Saturday.
Question: What challenge do Catholics give to Protestants concerning Sunday?
Answer: "The Church changed the observance of the Sabbath to Sunday by rite of the divine, infallible authority given to her by her founder, Jesus Christ. The Protestant, claiming the Bible to be the only guide of faith, has no warrant for observing Sunday". The Catholic Universe Bulletin, August 14, 1942.
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". Rev. Stephan Keenan, A Doctrinal Catechism, page 174.
"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.
"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.
"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 of March 18, 1903.
"Ques.- Have you any other way of proving that the [Catholic] Church has power to institute festivals of precept [to command holy days]?
"Ans.- 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 - Stephen Keenan, Doctrinal Catechism, p.176.
"Reason and common sense demand the acceptance of one or the other of these two alternatives: either Protestantism and the keeping holy of Saturday or Catholicity and the keeping holy of Sunday. Compromise is impossible".- The Catholic Mirror December23, 1893.
"God simply gave His [Catholic] 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 - Vincent J. Kelly, Forbidden Sunday and Feast-Day Occupations, p.2.
"Protestants... accept Sunday rather than Saturday as the day for public worship after the Catholic Church made the change... But the Protestant mind does not seem to realize that in accepting the Bible, in observing the Sunday, they are accepting the authority of the spokesman for the church, the Pope - Our Sunday Visitor, February 5, 1950.
"We hold upon this earth the place of God Almighty".-Pope Leo XIII, in an Encyclical Letter, dated June 20, 1894.
"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, Staria della Domenica, 1969, p.366-367.
"The Pope is not only the representative of Jesus Christ, but he is Jesus Christ, hidden under veil of flesh".- The Catholic National, July 1895.
"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.
"We define that the Holy Apostolic See (the Vatican) and the Roman Pontiff hold the primacy over the whole world".- A Decree of the Council of Trent, quoted in Philippe Labbe and Gabriel Cossart, "The Most Holy Councils", cal.1167.
"It was the Catholic Church which, by the authority of Jesus Christ, has transferred this rest [from the Bible Sabbath] to the Sunday... Thus the observance of Sunday by the Protestants is an homage they pay, in spite of themselves, to the authority of the [Catholic] Church".- Monsignor Louis Segur, Plain Talk about the Protestantism of Today, p.213.
"We observe Sunday instead of Saturday because the Catholic Church transferred the solemnity from Saturday to Sunday".- Peter Geiermann, CSSR, A Doctrinal Catechism, 1957 edition, p.50.
"We Catholics, then, have precisely the same authority for keeping Sunday holy instead of Saturday as we have for every other article of our creed, namely, the authority of the Church... whereas you who are Protestants have really no authority for it whatever; for there is no authority for it [Sunday sacredness] in the Bible, and you will not allow that there can be authority for it anywhere else".- The Brotherhood of St. Paul, "The Clifton tracts", Volume 4, tract 4, p.15.
"The Church changed the observance of the Sabbath to Sunday by right of the divine, infallible authority given to her by her founder, Jesus Christ. The Protestant, claiming the Bible to be the only guide of faith, has no warrant for observing Sunday. In this matter the Seventh-day Adventist is the only consistent Protestant - The Catholic Universe Bulletin, August 14, 1942, p.4.
The Bible is your only safe guide. Jesus can help you obey it.
Trust God's Word more than man's traditions.
BAPTIST: "There was and is a command to keep holy the Sabbath day, but that Sabbath day was not Sunday. It will however be readily said, and with some show of triumph, that the Sabbath was transferred from the seventh to the first day of the week, with all its duties, privileges and sanctions. Earnestly desiring information on this subject, which I have studied for many years, I ask, 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 E.T. Hiscox, author of the Baptist Manual.
CONGREGATIONALIST: "It is quite clear that however rigidly or devotedly we may spend Sunday, we are not keeping the Sabbath... The Sabbath was founded on a specific divine command. We can plead no such command for the observance of Sunday... There is not a single line 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, p.106-107.
LUTHERAN FREE CHURCH: "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?" George Sverdrup, "A New Day".
PROTESTANT EPISCOPAL: "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 - The Protestant Episcopal Explanation of the Catechism.
BAPTIST: "The Scriptures nowhere call the first day of the week the Sabbath... There is no Scriptural authority for so doing, nor of course, any Scriptural obligation".- The Watchman.
PRESBYTERIAN: "There is no word, no hint in the New Testament about abstaining from work on Sunday. The observance of Ash Wednesday, or Lent, stands exactly on the same footing as the observance of Sunday. Into the REST of Sunday no Divine Law enters".- Canon Eyton, Ten Commandments.
ANGLICAN: "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".- Isaac Williams, Plain Sermons on the Catechism, p.334,336.
METHODIST: "It is true that 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 a supposition".- Amos Binney, Theological Compendium, p.180-181.
EPISCOPALIAN: "We have made the change from the seventh to the first day, from Saturday to Sunday, on the authority of the one holy, catholic, apostolic church of Christ".- Bishop Seymour, "Why We Keep Sunday".
SOUTHERN BAPTIST: "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".- Joseph Judson Taylor, The Sabbatic Question, p.14-17, 41.
AMERICAN CONGREGATIONALIST: "The current notion, that Christ and His apostles authoritatively substituted the first day for the seventh, is absolutely without any authority in the New Testament".- Dr. Lyman Abbot, in the Christian Union, June 26, 1890.
CHRISTIAN CHURCH: "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".- Alexander Campbell, The Reporter, October 8, 1921.
DISCIPLES OF CHRIST: "There is no direct Scriptural authority for designating the first day 'the Lord's Day'".- Dr. D.H. Lucas, Christian Oracle, January 23, 1890.
BAPTIST: "To me it seems unaccountable that Jesus, during three years discussion with His disciples, often conversing upon the Sabbath question, discussing it in some of its various aspects, freeing it from its false [Jewish traditional] glosses, never alluded to any transference of the day; also, no such thing was intimated. Nor, so far as we know, did the Spirit, which was given to bring to their remembrance all things whatsoever that He had said unto them, deal with this question. Nor yet did the inspired apostles, in preaching the gospel, founding churches, counseling and instructing those founded, discuss or approach the subject. "Of course I quite well know that Sunday did come into use in early Christian history as a religious day, as we learn from the Christian Fathers and other sources. But what a pity that it comes branded with the mark of paganism, and christened with the name of the sun god, then adopted and sanctified by the Papal apostasy, and bequeathed as a sacred legacy to Protestantism".- Dr. E.T. Hiscox, report of his sermon at the Baptist Minister's Convention, New York Examiner, November 16, 1893.
"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 (Catholics) never sanctify". Cardinal Gibbons, The Faith of Our Fathers, page 111.
Think it through:
"Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do. And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition". Mark 7:7-9
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