Common Arguments and Misunderstandings
The Seal of God is not the Sabbath! The Bible tells us clearly that the Seal of God is the Holy Spirit indwelling believers the moment they are saved.
“In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession unto the praise of his glory.” (Ephesians 1:13)
“And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.” (Ephesians 4:30)
“Now he which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God: Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts.” (II Corinthians 1:21-22)
The Sabbath was a sign between God and the children of Israel (Ex. 31:17) in relation to the old covenant, but so was circumcision (Rom. 4:11) Neither is a sign to Christians.
“And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.” (Revelation 12:17)
Under grace what are the “commandments of God? Does this mean the Ten Commandments? No. The Greek word John always uses for the Ten Commandments is “NOMOS.” That word is not used here. The word he uses here is “ENTELE” and means “teaching.”
(Note: The Greek word for “Law” (nomos) is never used in Revelation.)
The Apostle John clarifies this and actually tells us what the “Commandments” are that we are to keep:
“WHOSOEVER BELIEVETH that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and everyone that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.” (I John 5:1-3)
“Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God. And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight. And this is his commandment, That we should BELIEVE on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and LOVE ONE ANOTHER, as he gave us commandment.” (I John 3:21-24)
“Isn’t it paying homage to the Roman Catholic Church to worship on Sunday, because didn’t the Roman Emperor Constantine change the day of worship?”
It is claimed that Constantine’s edict of March 7, 321 A.D. changed the day of worship from Saturday to Sunday. What he introduced was the first civil legislation concerning Sunday when he decreed that all work should cease on Sunday, except that farmers could work if necessary. Constantine’s edict reads:
“On the venerable Day of the Sun [venerablili dei Solis] let the magistrates and people residing in cities rest, and let all workshops be closed. In the country, however, persons engaged in agriculture may freely and lawfully continue their pursuits. Codex Justinianus, book 3, title 12,3 trans. In Schaff, History of the Christian Church 5th ed.(New York: Charles Scribner, 1902), vol. 3, p. 380, note 1.
WHAT DO THE CHURCH FATHERS SAY?
[all emphasis below has been added]
JUSTIN MARTYR, A.D. 140:
[lived 150 years before the time of Constantine]
Justin’s Apology was written at Rome about the year A.D. 140, only 44 years after the Apostle John received the vision of the Revelation at Patmos. In chapter 67 of his first Apology entitled, “Weekly Worship of the Christian,” writing to the pagan emperor, Justin states:
“…we bless the Maker of all through His Son, Jesus Christ, and through the Holy Ghost. And on the day called Sunday, all who live in cities or in the country gather together to one place, and the memoirs of the Apostles or the writings of the prophets are read, as long as time permits; then, when the reader has ceased, the president verbally instructed, and exhorts to the imitation of these good things. Then we all rise together and pray, and as we before said, when our prayer is ended, bread and wine and water are brought…But Sunday is the day on which we all hold our common assembly, because it is the first day on which God, having wrought the change in the darkness and matter, made the world; and Jesus Christ our Savior on the same day rose from the dead.” (The Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 1, pp. 185-186.)
NOTE: At this early date, A.D. 140, the only difference among Christians was about the Millennium. At that time, they had no disagreement in keeping Sunday. Justin says that was the day on which all Christians worshipped.
In 150 A.D. Justin writes:
“…those who have persecuted and do persecute Christ, if they do not repent, shall not inherit anything on the holy mountain. But the Gentiles, who have believed on Him, and have repented of the sins which they have committed, they shall receive the inheritance along with the patriarchs and the prophets, and the just men who are descended from Jacob, even although they neither keep the Sabbath, nor are circumcised, nor observe the feasts. Assuredly they shall receive the holy inheritance of God.” (Dialogue With Trypho the Jew, 150-165 A.D., Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 1, p. 207.)
“There is no other thing for which you blame us, my friends, is there than this? That we do not live according to the Law, nor, are we circumcised in the flesh as your forefathers, nor do we observe the Sabbath as you do.” (Dialogue with Trypho, chap. 10, p. 387.)
“As, then, circumcision began with Abraham, and the Sabbath and sacrifices and offerings and feasts with Moses, and it has been proved they were enjoined on account of the hardness of your people’s heart, so it was necessary, in accordance with the Father’s will, that they should have an end in Him who was born of a virgin, of the family of Abraham, and tribe of Judah, and of David.” (Dialogue with Trypho, Vol. 1 chap. 43, p. 426.)
IGNATIUS of ANTIOCH, 107 A.D.:
Ignatius, the third bishop of Antioch, wrote:
“If, therefore, those who were brought up in the ancient order of things have come to the possession of a new hope, no longer observing the Sabbath, but living in the observance of the Lord’s Day, on which also our life has sprung up again in Him…Let us therefore no longer keep the Sabbath after the Jewish manner, and rejoice in the days of idleness; for “he that does not work, let him not eat.” …let every friend of Christ keep the Lord’s day as a festival, the resurrection day, the queen and chief of all the days [of the week].” (Epistle of Ignatius, to the Magnesians, chapters 9-10, pp. 131-133.)
TERTULLIAN of AFRICA, wrote around A.D. 200, in his Apology, Chapter 16:
“We solemnize the day after Saturday in contradistinction to those who call this day their Sabbath, and devote it to ease and eating, deviating from the old Jewish customs, which they are now very ignorant of.”
“Others, with greater regard to good manners, it must be confessed, suppose that the sun is the god of the Christian, because it is a well-known fact that we pray towards the east, or because we make Sunday a day of festivity” (The Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 3, p. 123.)
It follows, accordingly, that, in so far as the abolition of carnal circumcision and of the old law is demonstrated as having been consummated at its specific times, so also the observance of the Sabbath is demonstrated to have been temporary.(An Answer to the Jews 4:1, Ante-Nicene Fathers Vol. 3, p. 155.)
DIONYSIUS, BISHOP of CORINTH in Greece, A.D. 170:
Dionysius was Bishop of Corinth, the Church which Paul raised up and to which he gave the command about Sunday collections, in I Cor. 16:1-2. He says:
“We passed this holy Lord’s Day, in which we read your letter, from the constant reading of which we shall be able to draw admonition.” (Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History, BK. 4, Chap. 23.)
BARNABAS, A.D. 120:
“We keep the eighth day with joyfulness, the day also, on which Jesus rose again from the dead.” (Epistle of Barnabas, Chapter XV)
“The celebration of the Lord’s Day in memory of the resurrection of Christ dates undoubtedly from the apostolic age. Nothing short of apostolic precedent can account for the universal religious observance in the churches of the second century. There is no dissenting voice. This custom is confirmed by the testimonies of the earliest post-apostolic writers, as Barnabas, Ignatius, and Justin Martyr. (Philip Schaff, vol. 1, pg. 201-202.
“Hence, the first day was already in the apostolic age honorably designated as ‘the Lord’s Day.’ …it appears, therefore, from the New Testament itself, that Sunday was observed as a day of worship, and in special commemoration of the Resurrection, whereby the work of redemption was finished. The universal and uncontradicted Sunday observance in the second century can only be explained by the fact that it has its roots in apostolic practice.” (Philip Schaff, vol. 1, pg. 478-479.
“In the second century its observance [Sunday] was universal. … The Jewish Christians ceased to observe the Sabbath after the destruction of Jerusalem.” (Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia, Sunday)
Encyclopedia Britannica: “Sunday, first day of the week; in Christianity, the Lord’s Day, the weekly memorial of Jesus Christ’s resurrection from the dead. The practice of Christians gathering together for worship on Sunday dates back to apostolic times, but details of the actual development of the custom are not clear. Before the end of the 1st Century A.D., the author of Revelation gave the first day its name of the ‘Lord’s Day’ (Rev. 1:10). Saint Justin Martyr (c. 100-c. 165), philosopher and defender of the Christian faith, in his writings described the Christians gathered together for worship on the Lord’s Day: the gospels or the Old Testament was read, the presiding minister preached a sermon, and the group prayed together and celebrated the Lord’s Supper. The emperor Constantine (d. 337), a convert to Christianity, introduced the first civil legislation c33oncerning Sunday in 321, when he decreed that all work should cease on Sunday, except that farmers could work if necessary. This law, aimed at providing time for worship, was followed later in the same century and in subsequent centuries by further restrictions on Sunday activities. (15th edition, vol. 11, pg. 392) [Note: After the council of Nicaea, Constantine converted to Arianism and was baptized as an Arian. See: Heresies Confronted by the Early Church, p. 5.)
Encyclopedia Americana: “From the apostolic era to the present it has been customary for Christians to assemble for communal Sunday services… Civil laws requiring the observance of Sunday date back at least to Emperor Constantine the Great, who designated Sunday as a legal day of rest and worship in 321. This law, however was not specifically Christian, since Sunday was the day of the sun-god for pagans as well as the Lord’s day for Christians. While Constantine thus managed to please the two major religious groups in the Roman empire, numerous later law regulating behavior on Sunday have been avowedly Christian.” (Sunday, 1988, pg. 21)
Collier’s Encyclopedia: “The New Testament contains clear evidence that from a very early period the first day of the week was observed by Christians as a day of assembly for “the breaking of bread” and perhaps for the collection of freewill offerings. (Acts xx:7 and 1 Corinth xvi:2). Justin Martyr in the middle of the second century describes how ‘on the day called Sunday’ all town and country Christians assembled for instructions in holy writings, for prayer distribution of bread and wine, and the collection of alms. Tertullian declared that the Christians ‘made Sunday a day of joy, but for other reasons that to adore the sun which was not part of their religion.’ ” (Sunday, 1985, pg. 632-633.)
Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia: “In the second century its [Sabbath] observance was universal. … The Jewish Christians ceased to observe the Sabbath after the destruction of Jerusalem. … The universal and uncontradicted Sunday observance in the second century can only be explained by the fact that it had its roots in apostolic practice.” (History of the Christian church, Vol. I, p. 478.)
The historical record shows that the only mention of Sabbath keeping was by Eusebius in 300 A.D. by a cult-sect known as the Ebionites, who Eusebius says also worshipped on the first day. Ebionites were a cult of Judaizers who enforced circumcision, rejected Apostle Paul’s teachings, denied Jesus’ virgin birth and His deity.
“With them the observance of the law was altogether necessary…They also observe the sabbath and other disciplines of the Jews just like them, but on the other hand they also celebrate the Lord’s Day very much like us in the commemoration of his resurrection.” (Eusebius, A. D. 324)
The first mention of Sunday being a day of rest was by Origen in 220 A.D.. This was the beginning of the current false doctrine that Sunday is the Christian Sabbath. Origen eventually turned from the faith once delivered to the saints and introduced many heretical teachings to his followers and taught a strange mixture of human philosophy and Christianity.
The observance of “days and months and times and years” was denounced by Paul as turning again unto bondage, which is foreign to the gospel of grace (Galatians 4:10-11).
WHAT ABOUT THE SUNDAY BLUE LAW?
The Sunday Blue Law was enforced in many states in America, especially those states east of the Mississippi, beginning in 1781. This law had to do with states having the full authority to regulate commerce, work and amusements on Sunday, which was called the “Sabbath day.” The Blue Law has long since been removed from the books in the majority of states that used it; however, it still remains on the books in a few states. Observing a Sabbath or Sunday is not binding on New Testament Christians. This includes trying to keep “Sunday as the Sabbath” as some teach.
SUNDAY KEEPING NOT AN INSTITUTION OF POPES
In spite of how the Roman Catholic Church has always claimed they “changed the Sabbath to Sunday,” they cannot provide any documentation when this was supposed to have taken place.
“The man who will shut his eyes to all this mass of testimony and still insist that Sunday-keeping is only an institution of popes of later ages, is simply held by a theory which he is bound to maintain anyway. … For myself, when once I decided to look these historical facts squarely in the face and give them whatever force they fairly deserved, I soon saw the utter falsity of the claim that the “pope changed the Sabbath.” The old feeling of uneasiness on this point is entirely gone. I feel that so far as the evidence of history is concerned, my feet stand on solid ground.” (D. M. Canright, Seventh-Day Adventism Renounced, Chapter 11, pp. 232, 233) (online book)
~Info compiled from an article sent to Exit & Support Network™
For further study:
Should the Sabbath be Observed Today? (excellent study)
The Sabbath Law (6 MP3 messages; excellent study; free download) [offsite link]
Did Jeroboam Change the Sabbath to Sunday? Is it essential we keep the Sabbath? (Q&A)
Did Herbert Armstrong Distort Historical Church Documents? (also covers Simon Magus and the Gnostic heresy)
The Lord’s Day From Neither Catholics nor Pagans by D. M. Canright [online book]
Back to Grace & Law (many articles)