HISTORIANS AND CHURCH AUTHORITIES TELL US
WHERE SUNDAY SACREDNESS CAME FROM
Why is Sunday kept as a sacred day of worship, when
there is absolutely nothing about Sunday sacredness in the Bible?
About 300 years after the last book of the Bible was
written, the changeover was made. Historians and leaders in the churches
know the facts; you should too. Here they are—from the mouths of many
religious and historical experts:
ROMAN CATHOLIC LEADERS SPEAK
"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,
"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, N.J. 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, December
"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,
"Not the Creator of 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, Storia della Domenica,
1969, pp. 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," col.
"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.
The Bible is your only safe guide. Jesus can help you
obey it. Trust God’s Word more than man’s traditions.
PROTESTANT LEADERS SPEAK
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, pp. 106-107.
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
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, pp.
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, pp.
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, pp.
"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, 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, 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
"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.
HOW THE SABBATH WAS CHANGED TO SUNDAY
"There is scarcely anything which strikes the
mind of the careful student of ancient ecclesiastical history with
greater surprise than the comparatively early period at which many of
the corruptions of Christianity, which are embodied in the Roman system,
took their rise; yet it is not to be supposed that when the first
originators of many of these unscriptural notions and practices planted
those germs of corruption, they anticipated or even imagined they would
ever grow into such a vast and hideous system of superstition and error
as is that of popery."—John Dowling, History of Romanism, 13th
Edition, p. 65.
"It would be an error to attribute [‘the
sanctification of Sunday’] to a definite decision of the Apostles.
There is no such decision mentioned the Apostolic documents [that is,
the New Testament]."—Antoine Villien, A History of the
Commandments of the Church, 1915, p. 23.
"It must be confessed that there is no law in
the New Testament concerning the first day."—McClintock and
Strong, Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical
Literature, Vol. 9, p. 196.
"Rites and ceremonies, of which neither Paul nor
Peter ever heard, crept silently into use, and then claimed the rank of
divine institutions. [Church] officers for whom the primitive disciples
could have found no place, and titles which to them would have been
altogether unintelligible, began to challenge attention, and to be named
apostolic."—William D. Killen, The Ancient Church, p. xvi.
"Until well into the second century [a hundred
years after Christ] we do not find the slightest indication in our
sources that Christians marked Sunday by any kind of abstention from
work."—W. Rordorf, Sunday, p. 157.
"The ancient Sabbath did remain and was observed
. . by the Christians of the Eastern Church [in the area near Palestine]
above three hundred years after our Saviour’s death."—A Learned
Treatise of the Sabbath, p. 77.
"Modern Christians who talk of keeping Sunday as
a ‘holy’ day, as in the still extant ‘Blue Laws,’ of colonial
America, should know that as a ‘holy’ day of rest and cessation from
labor and amusements Sunday was unknown to Jesus . . It formed no tenant
[teaching] of the primitive Church and became ‘sacred’ only in the
course of time. Outside the church its observance was legalized for the
Roman Empire through a series of decrees starting with the famous one of
Contantine in 321, an edict due to his political and social ideas."—W.
W. Hyde, Paganism to Christianity in the Roman Empire, 1946, p. 257.
"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."—Augustus Neander, The History
of the Christian Religion and Church, 1843, p. 186.
"The [Catholic] Church took the pagan buckler of
faith against the heathen. She took the pagan Roman Pantheon [the
Roman], temple to all the gods, and made it sacred to all the martyrs;
so it stands to this day. She took the pagan Sunday and made it the
Christian Sunday . . The Sun was a foremost god with heathendom. Balder
the beautiful: the White God, the old Scandinavians called him. The sun
has worshipers at this very hour in Persia and other lands . . Hence the
Church would seem to have said, ‘Keep that old pagan name. It shall
remain consecrated, sanctified.’ And thus the pagan Sunday, dedicated
to Balder, became the Christian Sunday, sacred to Jesus. The sun is a
fitting emblem of Jesus. The Fathers often compared Jesus to the sun; as
they compared Mary to the moon."—William L. Gildea, "Paschale
Gaudium," in The Catholic World, p. 58, March 1894.
"The Church made a sacred day of Sunday . .
largely because it was the weekly festival of the sun;—for it was a
definite Christian policy to take over the pagan festivals endeared to
the people by tradition, and give them a Christian significance."—Authur
Weigall, The Paganism in Our Christianity, 1928, p. 145.
"Remains of the struggle [between the religion
of Christianity and the religion of Mithraism] are found in two
institutions adopted from its rival by Christianity in the fourth
century, the two Mithraic sacred days: December 25, ‘dies natalis
solis’ [birthday of the sun], as the birthday of Jesus,—and Sunday,
‘the venerable day of the Sun,’ as Constantine called it in his
edict of 321."—Walter Woodburn Hyde, Paganism to Christianity in
the Roman Empire, p. 60.
"It is not strange that Sunday is almost
universally observed when the Sacred Writings do not endorse it? Satan,
the great counterfeiter, worked through the ‘mystery of iniquity’ to
introduce a counterfeit Sabbath to take the place of the true Sabbath.
Sunday stands side by side with Ash Wednesday, Palm Sunday, Holy (or
Maundy) Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Sunday, Whitsunday, Corpus
Christi, Assumption Day, All Soul’s Day, Christmas Day, and a host of
other ecclesiastical feast days too numerous to mention. This array of
Roman Catholic feasts and fast days are all man made. None of them bears
the divine credentials of the Author of the Inspired Word."—M. E.
"Sun worship was the earliest idolatry."—Fausset
Bible Dictionary, p. 666.
"Sun worship was one of the oldest components of
the Roman religion."—Gaston H. Halsberge, The Cult of Sol
Invictus, 1972, p. 26.
" ‘Babylon, the mother of harlots,’ derived
much of her teaching from pagan Rome and thence from Babylon. Sun
worship—that led her to Sundaykeeping,—was one of those choice bits
of paganism that sprang originally from the heathen lore of ancient
Babylon: The solar theology of the ‘Chaldeans’ had a decisive effect
upon the final development of Semitic paganism . . [It led to their]
seeing the sun the directing power of the cosmic system. All the Baals
were thence forward turned into suns; the sun itself being the mover of
the other stars—like it eternal and ‘unconquerable’ . . Such was
the final form reached by the religion of the pagan Semites, and
following them, by that of the Romans . . when they raised ‘Sol
Invictus’ [the Invincible Sun] to the rank of supreme divinity in the
empire."—Franz F. V. M. Cummont, Astrology and Religion Among the
Greeks and Romans, p. 55.
"When Christianity conquered Rome, the
ecclesiastical structure of the pagan church, the title and the
vestments of the ‘pontifex maximus,’ the worship to the ‘Great
Mother’ goddess and a multitude of comforting divinities . . the joy
or solemnity of old festivals, and the pageantry of immemorial ceremony,
passed like material blood into the new religion,—and captive Rome
conquered her conqueror. The reins and skills of government were handed
down by a dying empire to a virile papacy."—Will Durant, Caesar
and Christ, p. 672.
"The power of the Ceasars lived again in the
universal dominion of the popes."—H. G. Guiness, Romanism and the
"Like two sacred rivers flowing from paradise,
the Bible and divine Tradition contain the Word of God, the precious
gems of revealed truth. Though these two divine streams are in
themselves, on account of their divine origin, of equal sacredness, and
are both full of revealed truths, still, of the two, Tradition [the
sayings of popes and councils] is to us more clear and safe."—Di
Bruno, Catholic Belief, p. 33.
"Unquestionably the first law, either
ecclesiastical or civil, by which the Sabbatical observance of that day
is known to have been ordained, is the edict of Constantine, A.D.
321."—Chamber’s Encyclopedia, article, "Sabbath."
Here is the first Sunday law in history, a legal
enactment by Constantine I (reigned 306-337): "On the Venerable Day
of the Sun ["Venerable die Solis"—the sacred 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 so suitable for grain-sowing or
for vine-planting; lest by neglecting the proper moment for such
operations the bounty of heaven should be lost—given the 7th day of
March [A.D. 321], Crispus and Constanstine being consuls each of them
for the second time."—The First Sunday Law of Constantine I, in
"Codex Justianianus," lib. 3, tit. 12,3; trans. in Phillip
Schaff, History of the Christian Church, Vol. 3, p. 380.
"This [Constantine’s Sunday decree of March
321] is the ‘parent’ Sunday law making it a day of rest and release
from labor. For from that time to the present there have been decrees
about the observance of Sunday which have profoundly influenced European
and American society. When the Church became a part of State under the
Christian emperors, Sunday observance was enforced by civil statutes,
and later when the Empire was past, the Church in the hands of the
papacy enforced it by ecclesiastical and also by civil enactments."—Walter
W. Hyde, Paganism to Christianity in the Roman Empire, 1946, p. 261.
"Constantine’s decree marked the beginning of
a long, though intermittent series of imperial decrees in support of
Sunday rest."—Vincent J. Kelly, Forbidden Sunday and Feast-Day
Occupations, 1943, p. 29.
"Constantine labored at this time untiringly to
unite the worshipers of the old and the new into one religion. All his
laws and contrivances are aimed at promoting this amalgamation of means
melt together a purified heathenism and a moderated Christianity . . Of
all his blending and melting together of Christianity and heathenism,
none is more easy to see through than this making of his Sunday law: The
Christians worshiped their Christ, the heathen their sun-god [so they
should now be combined]."—H. G. Heggtveit, Illustreret
Kirkehistorie, 1895, p. 202.
"If every Sunday is to be observed by Christians
on account of the resurrection, then every Sabbath on account of the
burial is to be regarded in execration [cursing] of the Jews."—Pope
Sylvester, quoted by S. R. E. Humbert, "Adversus Graecorum
Calumnias," in J. P. Migne, Patrologie, p. 143 [Sylvester (A.D.
314-337) was the pope at the time Constantine I was Emperor].
"All things whatsoever that were prescribed for
the [Bible] Sabbath, we have transferred them to the Lord’s day, as
being more authoritative and more highly regarded and first in rank, and
more honorable than the Jewish Sabbath."—Bishop Eusebius, quoted
in J. P. Migne, "Patrologie," p. 23, 1169-1172 [Eusebius of
Caesarea was a high-ranking Catholic leader during Constantine’s
"As we have already noted, excepting for the
Roman and Alexandrian Christians, the majority of Christians were
observing the seventh-day Sabbath at least as late as the middle of the
fifth century [A.D. 450]. The Roman and Alexandrian Christians were
among those converted from heathenism. They began observing Sunday as a
merry religious festival in honor of the Lord’s resurrection, about
the latter half of the second century A.D. However, they did not try to
teach that the Lord or His apostles commanded it. In fact, no
ecclesiastical writer before Eusebius of Caesarea in the fourth century
even suggested that either Christ or His apostles instituted the
observance of the first day of the week.
"These Gentile Christians of Rome and Alexandria
began calling the first day of the week ‘the Lord’s day.’ This was
not difficult for the pagans of the Roman Empire who were steeped in sun
worship to accept, because they [the pagans] referred to their sun-god
as their ‘Lord.’ "—E. M. Chalmers, How Sunday Came into the
Christian Church, p. 3.
The following statement was made 100 years after
Constantine’s Sunday Law was passed: "Although almost all
churches throughout the world celebrate the sacred mysteries on the
Sabbath every week, yet the Christians of Alexandria and at Rome, on
account of some ancient tradition, have ceased to do this."—Socrates
Scholasticus, quoted in Ecclesiastical History, Book 5, chap. 22
[written shortly after A.D. 439].
"The people of Constantinople, and almost
everywhere, assemble together on the Sabbath, as well as on the first
day of the week, which custom is never observed at Rome or at
Alexandria."—Hermias Sozomen, quoted in Ecclesiastical History,
vii, 19, in A Select Library of Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, 2nd
Series, Vol. 2, p. 390 [written soon after A.D. 415].
"Down even to the fifth century the observance
of the Jewish Sabbath was continued in the Christian church, but with a
rigor and solemnity gradually diminishing until it was wholly
discontinued."—Lyman Coleman, Ancient Christianity Exemplified,
chap. 26, sec. 2, p. 527.
"Contantine’s [five Sunday Law] decrees marked
the beginning of a long though intermittent series of imperial decrees
in support of Sunday rest."—A History of the Councils of the
Church, Vol. 2, p. 316.
"What began, however, as a pagan ordinance,
ended as a Christian regulation; and a long series of imperial decrees,
during the fourth, fifth, and sixth, centuries, enjoined with increasing
stringency abstinence from labor on Sunday."—Hutton Webster, Rest
Days, pp. 122-123, 270.
Here is the first Sunday Law decree of a Christian
council, given about 16 years after Constantine’s first Sunday Law of
A.D. 321: "Christians shall not Judaize and be idle on Saturday [in
the original: ‘sabbato’—shall not be idle on the Sabbath], but
shall work on that day; but the Lord’s day they shall especially
honour, and as being Christians, shall, if possible, do no work on that
day. If, however, they are found Judaizing, they shall by shut out [‘anathema,’
excommunicated] from Christ."—Council of Laodicea, c. A.D. 337,
Canon 29, quoted in C. J. Hefele, A History of the Councils of the
Church, Vol. 2, p. 316.
"The keeping of the Sunday rest arose from the
custom of the people and the constitution of the [Catholic] Church . .
Tertullian was probably the first to refer to a cessation of affairs on
the Sun day; the Council of Laodicea issued the first counciliar
legislation for that day; Constantine I issued the first civil
legislation."—Priest Vincent J. Kelly, Forbidden Sunday and
Feast-Day Occupations, p. 203 [a thesis presented to the Catholic
University of America].
"About 590, Pope Gregory, in a letter to the
Roman people, denounced as the prophets of Antichrist those who
maintained that work ought not to be done on the seventh day."—James
T. Ringgold, The Law of Sunday, p. 267.
In the later centuries, persecution against believers
in the Bible Sabbath intensified until very few were left alive. When
the Reformation began, the true Sabbath was almost unknown.
"Now the [Catholic] Church . . instituted, by
God’s authority, Sunday as the day of worship. The same Church, by the
same divine authority, taught the doctrine of Purgatory . . We have,
therefore, the same authority for Purgatory as we have for Sunday."—Martin
J. Scott, Things Catholics Are Asked about, 1927, p. 236.
"Of course the Catholic Church claims that the
change [of the Sabbath to Sunday] was her act . . AND THE ACT IS A MARK
of her ecclesiastical power."—From the office of Cardinal
Gibbons, through Chancellor H. F. Thomas, November 11, 1895