sunday, the sabbath and
the lord's day
The apostle Paul wrote "One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind" (ROMANS 14:5), but, as so many in Christendom these days are so enamored by this Sunday worship idea, it seemed necessary for us to look at its beginnings.
Throughout the Bible the Sabbath was always observed on the seventh day, that day upon which GOD rested after HIS six days of creation (known today as Saturday). Yet, today's Church for the most part celebrate Sunday as the day of rest, or as some like to call it, the Day of the Lord. The thoughtful student will be drawn to ask why? Why did the seventh day cease from being the special sanctified day of the LORD (GENESIS 2:3), the day of rest observed by believers throughout the Bible, and where did this Sun-day come from? In this study we will scrutinize these three terms, Sunday, Sabbath and the Lord's Day, so as to discover their origins and current usage.
Sun-day means exactly that, the Sun's day. Sunday was the day set apart by ancient peoples for worship of the Sun. Not only does the American Heritage Dictionary define it as the "day of the sun" but even the Catholic Encyclopedia gives a similar definition.
- Sunday (Day of the Sun), as the name of the first day of the week, is derived from Egyptian astrology. The seven planets, known to us as Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, the Sun, Venus, Mercury, and the Moon, each had an hour of the day assigned to them, and the planet which was regent during the first hour of any day of the week gave its name to that day. During the first and second century the week of seven days was introduced into Rome from Egypt, and the Roman names of the planets were given to each successive day. The Teutonic nations seem to have adopted the week as a division of time from the Romans, but they changed the Roman names into those of corresponding Teutonic deities. Hence the dies Solis became Sunday (German, Sonntag).
This is rather unsettling. How in the world did a day with such a pagan history, become the most important day of the week for Christendom? In the Bible the days are never named (except for the seventh, the weekly Sabbath). They are always referred to as the first day of the week, or the second or third and so on. Thus, we find recorded in the Gospels the following references to this first day of the week, in relationship to the day of the resurrection of Yeshua (Jesus).
- MATTHEW 28:1-2 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 sepulchre. And, behold, there was [had been] a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it.
- MARK 16:1-4 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 sepulchre at the rising of the sun. And they said among themselves, Who shall roll us away the stone from the door of the sepulchre? And when they looked, they saw that the stone was rolled away: for it was very great.
- LUKE 24:1-2 Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them. And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulchre.
- JOHN 20:1 The first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulchre, and seeth the stone taken away from the sepulchre.
We can plainly read and understand that each of the evangelists recognized that Yeshua had already arisen from His tomb sometime before sunrise on Sunday. There is no record of exactly when He was raised, but it had to be before sunrise Sunday morning.
The first day of the week for them began at sunset Saturday. As Mary discovered the open tomb while it was still dark on Sunday morning, Yeshua's resurrection obviously occurred sometime before those predawn hours. The fulfillment of Yeshua's prophecy that He would be buried for three days and three nights was fulfilled by late Saturday afternoon, so He could have been raised anytime after that (see the Study, The Crucifixion), even though His resurrection wasn't witnessed to until early Sunday.
Many believers suppose that the reason we celebrate Sunday as something special, is because it represents the resurrection of Yeshua. But if that is the case, why is it called Sun-day, the day of the Sun, rather than perhaps Son-day, or Resurrection Day, or even New Day or First Day? The answer is well documented.
Yeshua was crucified and ascended into heaven around A.D. 33 to 35. His apostles and disciples then traveled throughout the known world preaching and proclaiming the good news of His resurrection and the coming Day of Judgment. In A.D. 70 Yeshua returned and gathered together His church into heaven and GOD then unleashed HIS wrath upon those who had rejected and persecuted HIS Son (see the Study, Whatever Happened to Timothy?). Thus the city of Jerusalem was utterly destroyed and many thousands of Jews who were dispersed throughout the nations were killed or forced into a brutal slavery. Few if any remained who knew the truth concerning many of the details surrounding the life and times of Yeshua and His followers. Only a few of the apostle's writings remained.
Some time later another generation no doubt picked up and began to pursue the teaching of the original Church. Howbeit, many errors were evidently incorporated into their set of beliefs. This new Christian Church accepted all kinds of un-Biblical and non-Biblical doctrines, which for the most part have become the Traditions of the Church today.
Some years later the Roman Empire, which had brought stability to the world, was beginning to unravel. Corruption from within and enemies from without gradually began to weaken Rome's iron grip on the nations. Seeking to regain control of the mess, on March 7th of A.D. 321, Emperor Constantine issued the following decree in hopes of unifying both his pagan and Christian subjects.
- On the venerable day of the Sun 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 because it often happens that another day is not suitable for grain-sowing or vine planting; lest by neglecting the proper moment for such operations the bounty of heaven should be lost.
Weary of years of persecutions and hoping for some gain, the Christian Bishops threw their support behind Rome and thus became the official Church of Rome. Constantine himself claimed to be converted to the Christian faith. Howbeit, even a casual perusal of his murderous rule unmasks his true intentions, which were simply to regain his stranglehold over the nations of the world.
To sell this Sunday idea to their followers, no doubt the Bishops searched and found in the ancient writings occasional references to the first day of the week (ACTS 20:7 1 CORINTHIANS 16:2). Howbeit, no where in the Bible is Sunday, or the first day of the week ever established as the Sabbath, or the Day of Rest, or the Lord's Day, or even the day of the Resurrection. Only Church Tradition has made it so.
Of course the Church of Rome became the Holy Roman Catholic Church adopting and instituting many of the pagan holidays and customs into the routines of the believers, which have prevailed throughout the ages even unto the present times. So today, without giving it a second thought, Christians from around the world gather on Sun-days to worship a god of their choosing. That is how Sunday became the day of worship for the so-called Christian Church. But, whatever became of Saturday, the true Sabbath?
Yeshua was Jewish. Each and every one of His apostles were Jewish. All of His first disciples were Jewish, or proselytes to the Jewish faith. They all celebrated Saturday as the weekly Sabbath. Howbeit, after the Gathering Together of the true believers in A.D. 70, who really knew, or who wanted to remember what the customs of the Jews were. Thus, Sun-day was frequently selected as the day of worship, the day of His resurrection.
The confusion has so prevailed that many today have been led to believe that the Day of the Lord, so referred to in the Bible, is actually a day of the week. The truth is all the other way. The Day of the Lord is not a day of the week at all but a time, an age or era. Every occasion of the phrase "Day of the Lord" found in the Christian Scriptures (the New Testament) is given below.
- ACTS 2:20 The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come.
- 1 CORINTHIANS 5:5 To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.
- 2 CORINTHIANS 1:14 As also ye have acknowledged us in part, that we are your rejoicing, even as ye also are ours in the day of the Lord Jesus.
- 1 THESSALONIANS 5:2 For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.
- 2 PETER 3:10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.
You have to have a pretty wild imagination to see in any of these verses a reference to any day of the week. They all referred to a coming era when the Lord was to return. Many further err in calling Sunday this Lord's Day thinking they see in REVELATION 1:10 a reference to a particular day of the week. But again, this verse referred only to the Lord's return.
Saturday, Sunday or Monday, whatever day we observe or don't observe makes no real difference to GOD. It is the truth that matters, and that truth is written in the Bible, not handed down by Church Tradition.