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By Brian Pepper
It has often been said that
it was Jesus and the apostles that changed the seventh day Sabbath
to Sunday. The Question is 'did Jesus and the apostles keep Sunday'?
Does the Bible Sanction Sunday Worship?
A well known Catholic priest, Priest Enright
of the Catholic Redemptorial College, Kansas City Missouri, has made
this statement: "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."
For some reason or other, Saturday the seventh
day has been set aside in favour of Sunday, the
first day. The Catholics claim that the change cannot be found in
And yet Protestants recognize the change and
claim to believe and follow the Bible. It is indeed very interesting.
Catholics are accusing Protestants of being
unscriptural in the keeping of Sunday.
Exodus 20:8 we read, "Remember the Sabbath
day to keep it holy."
We can see from this text that the Sabbath is
a holy day.
Why a Holy Day?
How did it become a holy day?
Genesis 2:1-3 says, “Thus the heavens and the
earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh
day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the
seventh day from all his work which he had made. And God blessed the
seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested
from all his work which God created and made.”
Yes, a Holy God made a Holy Day, a Blessed
Does it Matter which Day you Keep?
Some people say “It doesn’t matter what day
that I keep as long as I keep one day holy.”
I want to tell you that no man can make a day
holy. Say for instance, I decide to keep Wednesday holy and I spend the day in prayer and
study. Would it be holy? Of course not! It takes a holy God to make anything
As St Peter says, "Be ye holy; for I am holy."
1 Peter 1:16
Did Jesus Change Sabbath Observance?
There are some people who say that Jesus
changed the day. Where in the Bible do you find that?
Matthew 5:17 says, “Think
not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not
come to destroy, but to fulfil.”
Did you notice the significance of the words
‘think not’? In these words Jesus tells us not to even
think such a thing, don’t entertain it for a moment. He says "I haven’t the slightest intention of
destroying the law."
Verse 18 says, “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.”
Then lest anyone still remains in doubt of the
eternal obligation of the law, He plainly states the consequence of
disregarding the claims of the Law.
Matthew 5:19 first part says, “Whosoever
therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall
teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of
The ones who break God's Commandments and
teach that they can be broken by men are called ‘the least’. That is
they will be looked upon as the least worthy. Christ did not mean that the one who broke the
commandments and taught others to do so would go to heaven. But rather they would have their names
mentioned as ones who would be shut out of the courts of glory.
But to those who obey the law and lead others
to do the same is reserved a great reward.
second part says, "…whosoever
shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the
kingdom of heaven.”
Seeing that Jesus is our great example we should follow in His steps.
John 15:10 says, "I have kept My Fathers
However if Jesus did change the Sabbath He
would most certainly have made it known, and the record would be
found in His New Testament.
First Day Mentioned in the Bible
We find the 1st Day of the week is mentioned
eight times in the New Testament. So we will look into these eight
texts to see if Jesus made any mention of a change or if He
ever sanctified the 1st Day or Sunday.
Testimony of St Matthew
Written 6 years after the cross, Matthew gives
us the history of Jesus earthly life and His utterances. But in all
of the Book of Matthew there is only a single reference to the first
day. Here it is:
Matthew 28:1 says, “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.”
This verse is very simple. It says the Sabbath
was past. There is no indication in this text of any change. Surely
St Matthew would have said, when the old Jewish Sabbath was past, it began
to dawn toward Sunday the Christian Sabbath." But he did not say
Well we certainly did not take very long to
get through 28 chapters. However we may be able to find something in
Testimony of St
Written about 10 years after the cross. We find that St Mark mentions the 1st Day of
the week twice. We will examine these two texts.
Mark 16:1,2 says, “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.”
Did you notice that St Mark verifies the words
of St Matthew. He is speaking of the same event. It clearly states
that the Sabbath was past. I notice that the ladies had come prepared to
work on Sunday, for they intended to embalm Jesus, and that was a
big job in those days. This also shows us very clearly that they did
not believe in His resurrection.
However we will read the next text.
Mark 16:9 says, “Now when Jesus was risen
early the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary
With this text we read
Mark 16: 10,11. “And she went and told
them that had been with him, as they mourned and wept. And they,
when they had heard that he was alive, and had been seen of her,
When I went to Sunday school I was told that
the disciples kept that first Sunday in honor of the resurrection.
But the Bible does not tell us that. We are told here that the
disciples did not
believe in the resurrection.
I want you to hear what it says in
16:14. “Afterward he appeared unto the eleven as
they sat at meat, and upbraided them with their unbelief and
hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen him
after he was risen.”
Why, the Lord had to rebuke the disciples for
not believing in His resurrection. No honest person could use this
text to support the claim that the apostles met on Sunday to celebrate the
resurrection of Christ.
Well, that is all we find in St Mark’s record.
Testimony of St Luke
Now we come to the testimony of St. Luke. Written about 30 years after the Cross. In all of his writings he makes mention of the
1st Day of the week only once. Here it is.
says, "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.”
It is very clear from this text that the women
were prepared to work on this first Sunday after the Resurrection. In the preceding verse it mentioned that they
rested on the Sabbath of the commandments, and now that the Sabbath
is past they are ready to work.
We certainly hurried through 24 Chapters. It seems as if we will have to try St John.
Testimony of St John
Written about 60 years after the cross. We should find something interesting in St
John's Gospel. 60 years after the cross is certainly a long
time. Surely he will mention something in connection
with the 1st Day or Sunday.
John 20:1 says, "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.”
Well there is nothing in this text to
establish Sunday keeping. However there is another text.
says, "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.”
Now I ask you, how could this be a celebration
in honor of Sunday? The Scripture distinctly says that the
disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews. It does not say
honour Sunday as the day of the
Resurrection. It would have said that if it had been the case.
Anyway the object of our Lord's appearance is clearly stated in
20:26. "And after eight days again his disciples were
within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut,
and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you.”
The reason the Lord appeared on this occasion
was to establish the faith of doubting Thomas in His Resurrection.
Well we have examined all that the gospel
writers have to say regarding the 1st Day or Sunday. Jesus never said a word about
observance. The gospel writers never wrote a thing about
it. However there two or three references in the
other New Testament writings. There is
one in Acts.
Written by Luke 30 years after the Cross.
says, "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
There is one thing that we need to keep in
mind and that is that the Bible day starts at the setting of the
Genesis 1:5.says, “…and the evening and the
morning were the first day."
Leviticus 23:32 says, "From even unto even
shall ye celebrate your Sabbath."
In Deuteronomy we are told when even begins.
Deuteronomy 16:6 later part says, ".. thou shalt sacrifice the passover at even, at the going down of the sun,
at the season that thou camest forth out of Egypt.”
So you see from these texts that a Bible day
is quite different from the Roman day that we now keep, that is from
midnight to midnight. So St Paul was conducting a special meeting on
You see St Paul had been at Troas for seven
days, now he was about to depart at dawn for Assos. He had preached on the Sabbath and then in
order to give a final message to the believers at Troas he conducted a
meeting that was climaxed by the Communion service. Then at dawn of
Sunday he set off on a 19 or
20 mile trip to Assos. This would be a full day’s journey. If St Paul
had wished to point out that Sunday was now to replace the Sabbath
then he had a golden opportunity here. He would have stayed with the believers and
started them off with Sunday keeping but he didn’t. He waited until it was
dawn and off he went. Friends you cannot find any sanctity for
Sunday keeping here.
Testimony of St Paul
St Paul wrote many books but in all his
Epistles the 1st Day is only mentioned once. Here it is.
1 Corinthians 16:1,2 says, “Now concerning the
collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of
Galatia, even so do ye. Upon the first day of the week let every one
of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be
no gatherings when I come.”
Many have honestly believed that this text
indicates that a collection was made on this Sunday. But listen to what
Translation has to say.
1 Corinthians 16:2. "Let each one of you put
on one side and store up at home."
You see St Paul mentions that the 1st Day
would be the best time for doing this as it would be like our pay
day. The early Christians closed their shops and
businesses down on Friday evening and on Saturday they forgot all
earthly cares. But on Sunday they would make up their account
and calculate the prosperity that had attended their business for
the past week. Then they would say so much for the grocer, so
much for the baker, so much for the rent, and so on then after all,
expenses were taken out they would put aside a sum for St Paul when
Now there remains one more text to investigate.
Revelation 1:10: “I was in the Spirit on the
Lord's day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet.“
Jesus said that He was "Lord of the
So if St John was in the Spirit on the Lord's day then it must have
been the Sabbath. For in
Exodus 20:8 we read, “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.”
Verse 10 says, "But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God:”
You see it is the Sabbath that is God's day or
the Lord's day, not Sunday. God never claimed that day. He said that is just an ordinary day, a
Well we have investigated every text that
mentions the lst day or Sunday. We have taken away every text that they say supports
Sunday. And so you see Sunday is
supported by tradition alone.
St Paul Change the Day
There are some who claim that St Paul was the
one who changed the day. We will take a moment or two to examine this
from the Bible.
Acts 18:4,11 says, "And he reasoned in the
synagogue every sabbath, and persuaded the Jews and the Greeks…And
he continued there a year and six months, teaching the word of God
For eighteen (18) months St Paul preached the
gospel every Sabbath. And in connection with this text we read
13:42,44: “And when the Jews were gone out of the
synagogue, the Gentiles besought that these words might be preached
to them the next sabbath…And the next sabbath day came almost the
whole city together to hear the word of God.”
There are some who say that St Paul only
preached in the synagogue on the Sabbath in order to reach the Jews
but here was a wonderful opportunity to explain to these Gentiles that the
was not the Sabbath for the Christians but that the 1st day Sunday
was the day. What a splendid opening this was for St Paul,
to tell these Gentiles that while he found it necessary to meet with
the Jews on their Sabbath in order to bring them the gospel, that they
the Gentiles could have their meetings on Sunday.
Friends he never did nor did he ever intend to
do, for we read in the Scriptures
verse 44, “And the next sabbath
day came almost the whole city together to hear the word of God.”
So you can see very clearly from this that St
Paul never changed the day.
Jesus Sabbath Prediction
But Jesus made a prophecy that the Sabbath
would be kept 40 years after Calvary.
Matthew 24:20 says, "But pray ye that your
flight be not in the winter, neither on the Sabbath day."
Jesus told the
Christians living in Jerusalem
that 40 years after His death on the Cross that Jerusalem would be
taken by Roman soldiers but He assured the Christians that they
would be able to flee from the terrible conditions that would
come because of the seige of Jerusalem. But He commanded them to pray that
they would not have to flee in the winter because the extreme cold
would kill little babes if not the mothers too. And neither on the
Sabbath day because the excitement, the commotion, and travel would
not be in keeping to the way Jesus wants the Sabbath kept.
We are told in
Psalms 111:7,8: "The works of his hands are verity and
judgment: all his commandments are sure, they stand fast forever
Worshipping in Vain
It is no wonder that our Lord in
Mark 7:7 said "In vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments
Jesus says "I want to make it clear, when you
base your worship on tradition and not the Bible, I don’t want any
of it. As a matter of fact I find it repulsive. How can we go on worshipping on
God says that it is a clear waste of time?
Listen to what St John says, speaking for the
Lord. 1 John 2:3,4
says, "And hereby we do know that we
know Him, if we keep His commandments. He that saith I know Him, and
keepeth not His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in
To the one who calls himself a Christian and
yet refuses to obey God, God says that person is a liar for calling
himself a Christian, And He says there is no truth in
I would rather be in the class of people that
God speaks of who will entering into heaven and will have a
home in the New Jerusalem.
Revelation 22:14 says, "Blessed are they that
do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life,
and may enter in through the gates into the city."
The ones who enter the Holy City are blessed
of God. They have kept the day that God blessed. Now God calls them
blessed. Would you like to be a Christian blessed by
God? Well you can be by keeping the day that God blessed.