Part Two — Transcript

Copyright © 2002 LLT Productions

 

On screen: Introductory dramatization: Jesus heals a man on the Sabbath.

Hal Holbrook

Hello, I’m Hal Holbrook. Welcome to Part Two of The Seventh Day: Revelations from the Lost Pages of History.

What Jesus Christ did on that Sabbath 2000 years ago was revolutionary indeed. By healing on that day, he won the hearts of the common people.  This placed him in direct conflict with the Jewish leaders.

By claiming Himself to be the “Lord of the Sabbath” He challenged their spiritual authority. A challenge that eventually led to His infamous trial and death on the cross.

Hal Holbrook

Jesus was born in Bethlehem, an insignificant town in the region of Judea, during the reign of Caesar Augustus, the first great Roman Emperor. At that time the Roman empire held within its borders scores—if not hundreds—of religions and cults—from Zoroastrianism in Persia to the mystery cults of Greece to the Druidism of Celtic Britain. Secret initiations 1 and fertility rites 2 were common. And so was belief in astrology. 3

The Romans themselves admired the religion and culture of Greece. They adopted Greek gods and blended them into their own religions. 4 The result was a mixture of ancestor worship, 5 emperor worship, 6 and sun worship; 7 a religion that included not one god, but many.

Chapter 2: The Jewish Sabbath

Hal Holbrook

The Jews, on the other hand, worshipped only one God. Though surrounded by the images of Greek and Roman deities, they served a God they couldn’t see. They had no icons or images to represent Him. They had no initiations or fertility rites.  Instead they had a day. A day that set them apart. A day without equal in any other religion.  A 24-hour period devoted completely to their God. The Jews had… the Sabbath.

Johnston

After the exodus from Egypt, God made a covenant with Israel and part of that covenant included the Ten Commandments with the commandment to keep the Sabbath, the seventh day of the week, as a memorial of His creation and of His redemption from Egypt. By keeping that Sabbath, which was a sign between God and Israel, they were reminded that He was their God and they were His people.

Announcer

“'You shall surely observe My sabbaths; for this is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I am the LORD who sanctifies you.” 8

Shaye Cohen

It’s safe to assume that the Jews of the first century knew and read the ten commandments. The ten commandments told them, just as it tells us, that the Sabbath is a memorial to God’s creation of the world in six days, and also is a memorial to the Exodus from Egypt.

Burton Visotzky

For Jews of the first century the Sabbath was a time of intense spirituality. They related to God who created the universe in six days and rested on the seventh. So they too rested on the seventh. As well, in Jewish liturgy, they reflected on the fact that God took them out of Egypt. So the Sabbath became for them a celebration of their freedom.

Alan Reinach

Observance of the seventh day Sabbath was the unmistakable mark of the Jew. It set him apart from everyone else. It couldn’t be hidden.

Shaye Cohen

In the eyes of Greek and Roman observers, the Jewish observance of the Sabbath was one of the peculiarities of the Jews. Here is a people that does not work every seventh day – and the Greeks and Romans had nothing comparable to this.

Burton Visotzky

First-century Jews took advantage of the Sabbath in that they could not work, and instead rejoiced. They would have a wonderful candle-lit dinner on Friday night, often with two loaves of bread to commemorate the manna that fell in the desert in the biblical period. They would, on Saturday, probably attend the synagogue, where they had the opportunity to see and perhaps gossip with their friends, and from the evidence that we have they studied the Torah and worshipped together.

Shaye Cohen

Outside observers are repeatedly struck by the oddity of the Jewish refusal to do work on the Sabbath day. One philosopher, Seneca, even says that the Jews devote one-seventh of their life to idleness, because they don’t work on the Sabbath day.

Hal Holbrook

When Jesus arrived on the scene, the Sabbath was being crushed under the weight of arbitrary rules and regulations. The rabbis had turned Sabbath keeping into a meticulous science devoid of meaning and joy.

Vsotzky

In the first century Sabbath observance was a series of don’ts. They forbade the tying or untying of a knot, cooking, writing more than one letter of the alphabet, the carrying of any burden, including something you might put in your pocket, and a lot of the day to day kind of work like preparing skins and hides and the thing that you would need for subsistence.

Johnston

They forbade the kindling of a fire or the extinguishing of a fire and they forbade travel of more than 2000 cubits beyond your dwelling place. Two thousand cubits would be about four thousand feet.

Gerard Damsteegt

The Jewish way of Sabbath keeping was very legalistic. You couldn’t move; you couldn’t do anything. But Jesus saw that that was a distortion of God’s plan for humanity.

Chapter 3: The Sabbath Reformer

Hal Holbrook

By healing the man with the withered hand, Jesus showed the true spirit of the Sabbath. He rejected the rabbi’s rules He kept the Sabbath as taught in the ancient Hebrew Scriptures. 

Robert Johnston

According to the gospel of Luke, it was Jesus’ custom to go into the synagogue and worship on the Sabbath day. He did keep the Sabbath but He did not keep it according to the rules laid down by the Pharisees. In fact, He said, “The Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath.” Whereas, the Pharisees had said that the Sabbath was made only for Israel and in fact, Israel was made for the Sabbath so that the Lord would have someone on earth to keep the Sabbath.

Hal Holbrook

When Jesus declared that the Sabbath was made for man, He was teaching a radical, disturbing concept. No wonder He provoked such strong opposition from the Jewish leaders.

To the religious leaders, this was scandalous behavior—particularly because it broke their “mortal danger” rule.  The mortal danger rule said that there were some things you could do on the Sabbath only in life-or-death cases. You could save someone whose life was in danger. But, you could not heal a chronically ill person on the Sabbath. That would have to wait for another day.

Robert Johnston

But Jesus didn’t want to wait another day. He was saying, basically, “You untie your animal so that your animal can rest on the Sabbath, but you are criticizing me for loosing this woman from her burden so that she can truly keep Sabbath for the first time in many, many years. It was a devastating argument.

Hal Holbrook

St. John, in his record of the life of Jesus, reports that “for this reason the Jews were persecuting Jesus, because He was doing these things on the Sabbath.” 9

Alan Reinach

They accused Jesus of breaking the Sabbath and they were afraid that the people would follow Jesus, the nation would become a nation of Sabbath breakers, and this would incur the judgments and the wrath of God. They would lose their nation. And it was this fear that led to the crucifixion of Christ.

Hal Holbrook

Some have suggested that the Sabbath of the Ten Commandments lost its significance with the life and death of Jesus—that somehow He did away with the Sabbath.

Robert Johnston

When He said the Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath, He could have said the Sabbath was given to Israel and is no longer necessary for people other than Israelites to keep and maybe not even Israelites. He had all kinds of opportunities to say the Sabbath isn’t important, let’s get rid of the Sabbath. But instead, all the controversies that He had with the Pharisees were not about whether the Sabbath should be kept but how it should be kept.

Alan Reinach

If ever there was a question about how to keep the Sabbath, Jesus gave the answer. The answer was the authority of the sacred scriptures, not following the human laws and traditions. The human had so encrusted the Sabbath, you could hardly see the, the real thing. Jesus cut through that to the heart of the Sabbath, which is a relationship between a loving Creator and, and people.

Gerard Damsteegt

And so, Sabbath, away from the secular activities, could be a day of action, a day of concern for your fellow beings, a day for fellowship, a day to spend more time with God, your family, your neighbors, your friends.

Hal Holbrook

Many devout Christians are surprised to learn that their own weekly day of worship is based on church rules and traditions – and not on the sacred scriptures. Some believe the Bible teaches that Jesus purposely violated the seventh-day Sabbath in order to make way for a new Christian day of worship.

Alan Reinach

This idea lacks both biblical and historical support. Jesus didn’t break the Sabbath of the Ten Commandments. What He did was to defy human customs and traditions, and by doing that, He showed what the biblical Sabbath keeping, the true Sabbath keeping, really was.

Hal Holbrook

Jesus Christ broke the Sabbath free, free from the traditions that had made it a rigid formality—and He restored its true purpose as a celebration of man’s relationship with his fellow man—and with his Creator.

Chapter 4: Prophecy

Announcer

“When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet…. Then let them which be in Judea flee into the mountains…. But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day” 10

Hal Holbrook

With those words Jesus pointed to a frightening prediction from the Old Testament prophet Daniel. But why would He tell the people to pray that they wouldn’t have to escape on the Sabbath unless he expected them to still be keeping the Sabbath holy?

Burton Visotzky

In the Roman empire in the year 66 Rome was quite unstable. That’s called the year of the four emperors, and the first three did not die of natural causes. So the Jews—an eastern province of the Roman empire—thought that this was actually a good time to take advantage of Roman instability to press forward for their own freedom from Roman oppression.

Hal Holbrook

The Roman general Vespasian marched against the city in an attempt to quell the uprising. 11 Before the job was done he became emperor in 69 AD, and his son Titus, another future emperor, took over as general of the army. Titus laid siege to the city 12 and finally, in 70 AD, the Roman army broke through the defenses, ravaged the city, and completely destroyed the Temple. 13

An early church historian reports that the Christians of Jerusalem remembered the warning of Jesus and escaped before the city fell to the Romans.

Alan Reinach

This story is an obvious intersection of history and prophecy. We know the dates and places, and Jesus predicted and knew when these things would take place; that forty years after His death and resurrection, His followers would still be keeping the Sabbath.

Hal Holbrook

In fact, throughout the New Testament period—and that takes us to the end of the first century AD—Christians continued to observe the seventh-day Sabbath. That’s clear from both the biblical and historical records.

Chapter 5: Christians and Jews

Gerard Damsteegt

The early Christians saw their relationship to Judaism not as a kind of a discontinuity but as a progression. In effect, their religion was a fulfillment of all the hopes and expectations of the Old Testament.

Robert Johnston

Christians did not see themselves as a new religion. They believed that they were Jews. They were the true Israel. They were the children of Abraham. If they were Gentiles, they were the children of Abraham by faith.

Claudia Setzer

One thing that Jews and Christians shared was an idea that God acts in history, that He acted at Sinai, at the Exodus, at Creation—and the record of those actions is in the Hebrew scriptures.

Alan Reinach

The belief in the one God, a personal God, a loving Creator in relationship with His creatures, this was at the heart of both Jewish and Christian theology. It was also with the heart of the experience of Sabbath keeping for them, as a relationship with a loving Creator. But for Christians, the life and death of Christ added a new dimension, a new reason for Sabbath keeping.

Announcer

“So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God.” 14

Hal Holbrook

With those words St Paul showed that Christian faith took the Sabbath to new heights.  With the death and resurrection of Jesus Christians had a new hope.  A hope of deliverance from a world of sin. And the Sabbath—originally the memorial of Creation—now also commemorated Salvation and the spiritual peace that it brings.

Chapter 6: The Christian Sabbath

Hal Holbrook

This brings us to a intriguing question:  If the first-century Christians observed the Sabbath of the Old Testament – the seventh-day Sabbath of Creation and the fourth commandment – why do most Christians today observe Sunday? When did the change from Saturday to Sunday take place?  Does the biblical record provide any clue?

Hal Holbrook

The first four books of the New Testament are among the oldest Christian documents. St. Mark wrote his book first—a report on the life of Christ. That was 55 AD or later. The writings of Saints Matthew and Luke probably date to sometime between the late 60’s and A.D. 80.  St. John, the last surviving original disciple of Christ, wrote his book near the end of the first century.

Hal Holbrook

Despite their late dates—from 30 to 70 years after the death of Christ—these books contain not even the slightest hint that Jesus Himself—or his disciples—considered changing the day of rest and worship from the seventh day of the week to the first. 

Alan Reinach

It’s especially significant that New Testament writers never refer to the first day of the week as the Sabbath. To them, the seventh day was the Sabbath, and this is consistent with all of the other evidence that to the end of the first century, Christians were worshipping with Jews in the synagogue on the Sabbath.

Robert Johnston

About 95 or 100 AD, a change was made in the synagogue service. The middle part of the service is known as the standing prayer, the Amida, or the eighteen benedictions consisting of eighteen short prayers or blessings of God, Thanksgiving blessings. All eighteen are recited on weekdays, on Sabbaths only seven. But at this time, an additional one was added. It is known in Hebrew as the Birkat ha-Minin, the blessing concerning the heretics. But it’s not really a blessing.

Announcer

“May the apostates have no hope. May the dominion of wickedness be speedily uprooted in our days. May the Nazarenes and the heretics quickly perish and not be inscribed together with the righteous. Blessed art Thou, the eternal, our God, who crushes the wicked.”

Robert Johnston

It smoked out the Christians, because anyone could be asked to lead out in the recitation of this. Anybody, everybody was supposed to say “Amen” at the end of each one and this made it very uncomfortable, in fact impossible, for Christians to participate in the, the Pharisee-led synagogue service from that time onward.

Hal Holbrook

The evidence of this synagogue prayer helps sharpen our picture of first-century Christians. It’s clear that they were keeping the Sabbath right along with their Jewish brothers. So now the Jews were becoming less tolerant of Christians. But Christians themselves were beginning to question the value of their connection to Judaism.

Burton Visotzky

In the early church literature Christians are really desperate to separate from Judaism and to distinguish themselves. As a result there is the appearance of a great deal of anti-judaism or anti-Semitism. Some of it is invective—nasty comments about Jews. Some of it is pushing away from what they saw as Old Testament religion.

Alan Reinach

There were practical reasons for the Christians to distance themselves from the Jews. No doubt they were swept up in the current of anti-Jewish sentiment. Not surprising, given the level of conflict between Jews and the Roman Empire at the time.

Hal Holbrook

Although the Jews were scattered throughout the Mediterranean region and beyond, many of them still dreamed of a great Jewish nation and ultimate victory over their enemies. And in north Africa, around 115 AD, these dreams flared into violence. 

Announcer

“The Jews in the region of Cyrene had put a certain Andreas at their head, and were destroying both the Romans and the Greeks…. Many they sawed in two, from the head downwards; others they gave to the wild beasts, and still others they forced to fight as gladiators.  In all two hundred and twenty thousand persons perished. In Egypt, too, they perpetrated many similar outrages, and in Cyprus…” Dio Cassius.  15

Hal Holbrook

A few years later, in 132, Jewish opposition to imperial authority exploded into another violent revolt. This time it was in Jerusalem.

Shaye Cohen

Our ancient sources give us two reasons for the Bar Kochba uprising. First, the prohibition by the Roman emperor Hadrian, a prohibition against circumcision. Jews would no longer be allowed to practice circumcision.  Second, a decision by Hadrian to rebuild Jerusalem as a pagan city, the city of Aelia Capitolina.

Hal Holbrook

Imperial forces finally crushed the rebellion in 135. Hadrian banned Jews from Jerusalem and prohibited Sabbath-keeping and other Jewish rites of religion. 16

Alan Reinach

So, there was strong anti-Jewish sentiment throughout the Roman Empire. Jews were the enemy. Christians didn’t want to be associated with the Jews and thought of as the enemy, and the easy way to disassociate themselves was to renounce the Sabbath, which was a mark of Jewishness.

Hal Holbrook

So, where—and when—did Christians first begin to observe an alternate day of worship? The lost pages of history lead us in a surprising direction.

Chapter 7: Sundaykeepers

Hal Holbrook

Alexandria, Egypt. Founded in 332 B.C. by Alexander the Great. 17 One of the world’s great centers of literature, science, and commerce. A melting-pot of religious ideas and classical philosophy.

There is solid evidence that Christians in Alexandria were the first to replace Sabbath observance with first-day—that is, Sunday—worship. 18 This began shortly before 120 AD. 19

Robert Johnston

One of the first documents that we find pointing to Christian keeping of Sunday is the so-called “Epistle of Barnabas.” Now, it is not the real Barnabas that we read about in the New Testament in the Book of Acts. This is pseudo Barnabas. It’s a pseudepigraphon. It’s falsely attributed to him. But it was written apparently by somebody in Alexandrine Egypt where the tendency was to spiritualize everything. And that’s what this “Epistle of Barnabas” does. It doesn’t take anything literally.

Claudia Setzer

Barnabas believes that the Hebrew scriptures is a gift to those who truly understand it, but he thinks the ones who understand it will not take it literally, but will understand it in a metaphorical or spiritual sense.

Alan Reinach

Barnabas claims that he and his followers are observing the eighth day of the week, the day after the Sabbath, obviously Sunday. He condemns Judaism and everything associated with it, including observance of the seventh day Sabbath.

Hal Holbrook

The Barnabas letter is the evidence of Sunday being promoted as the Christian day of worship. But to find the real heart of the pro-Sunday movement we have to shift our focus from Alexandria westward to the heart of the Roman empire.

Hal Holbrook

It is in ancient Rome that we find the first description of early Christian Sunday-keeping. It comes from Justin Martyr, a convert to the new faith.  20

Announcer

“But Sunday is the day on which we all hold our common assembly, because it is the first day on which God, having wrought a change in the darkness and matter, made the world; and Jesus Christ our Saviour on the same day rose from the dead." 21

Alan Reinach

Early Christian Sunday keepers needed a theological justification for keeping the first day of the week, and they found it in linking the first day to the first day of creation. In doing that, they were denying the authority of Christ, who declared Himself to be Lord of the Sabbath, the seventh day of creation.

Chapter 8: The Day of the Sun

Hal Holbrook

We have reached a critical, defining moment in our story. By isolating the weekly holy day from its biblical roots, church leaders cut off the Sabbath from its source of spiritual meaning. It would become a hollow formality, a political hot potato, a test of authority, and a pawn in a centuries-long power struggle.  

Robert Johnston

Sunday was an attractive replacement for Sabbath because Sunday was beginning to draw to itself a certain amount of aura because of new developments in the pagan religion that made Sunday the day of worshipping the sun and thinking of the sun.

Hal Holbrook

I suppose it was inevitable that elements of pagan worship would find their way into Christianity. Christians were, after all, a small minority in a distinctly pagan world—a world that worshipped mythical gods, dead emperors, and the “invincible sun.”

Alan Reinach

Historians commonly date the beginning of the Roman Empire as 31 BC. That’s when Octavian defeated the forces of Antony and Cleopatra and came back to Rome to rule as the first Caesar, Caesar Augustus. And it was at that time that he shipped back to Rome two great obelisks.

Ron Mellor

One of those he set up in the circus maximus. You know, it was not only that it was dedicated to the sun god, but was also a very visible sign that Rome had conquered Egypt. That the dedication on it said “Ceasar Augustus dedicates this as a gift to the sun,” - but it also says “because Egypt has been conquered.”  So the people who came to the circus maximus to see the games could see not only this dedication to the sun, but also the realization that the Roman sun god had prevailed over the Egyptian sun god.

Hal Holbrook

Reports from the mid first century provide additional evidence of the popularity of sun worship. The notorious Emperor Nero commissioned a sculptor to create a statue nearly 115 feet tall, 22 topped with the likeness of his own head in the style of the sun god. 23

Ron Mellor

When Vespasian built his great amphitheater—which we call today the colosseum—he took that enormous colossus—colossus is the ancient word for statue—that enormous colossus of Nero—changed the features on the face and dedicated it to the sun god. 

Hal Holbrook

Emperor Elagabalus was so devoted to his eastern sun god that he took the deity’s name. He brought his god, in form of a black meteorite, all the way from Syria to Rome and adopted an eastern lifestyle.

Ron Mellor

And so his eastern dress, and his eastern orgies, and his eastern behavior, brought Elagabalus to grief after four years. And even though his god was sent back – the black stone was shipped back to Syria – that sun worship continued.

Alan Reinach

The ancient historian, Plutarch, reports how the Roman General, Pompey, went to the eastern Mediterranean to deal with the problem of pirates attacking commercial shipping. This is about 50 BC. Well, he conquered the pirates, captured them, brought them back to Rome. Turns out the pirates were worshippers of Mithras, the sun god, and from those pirates, the worship of Mithras became very popular in Rome, especially among the military.

Ron Mellor

I think that Roman military men would find Mithras a particularly attractive divinity. He was a warrior himself, fighting for the forces of good.  It was a hierarchical religion, and one could progress from grade to grade—there were seven grades of Mithraism—much like in an army. And thirdly, it was a religion of brotherhood and fellowship. They would meet together not only to worship their god but to eat a meal in common...

Ron Mellor

We hear about Roman soldiers having come back from the east, who pray at dawn, facing the east, facing the sun. And this is when we begin to get in Rome the mention of deus sol invictus, that is to say the unconquerable sun god. Unconquerable because the night tries to conquer the sun in each 24 hour period, but at dawn the sun has survived—the sun has vanquished the night.

Alan Reinach

The importance of sun-worshipping cults in the Roman Empire is shown during the reign of Aurelian, who was emperor from 270-275 AD.

Alan Reinach

He established a state religion that included the worship of both the emperor and Sol Invictus, the invincible son. He tried to unify all religions under the sun god.

Alan Reinach

Diocletian, who came to power in 284, was also devoted to the sun god. He maintained Aurelian’s principle of a state religion and even declared himself to be a god. Eventually, he ordered the persecution of Christians.

Chapter 9: Sunday Law

Hal Holbrook

To some Christians leaders it made sense to take advantage of the popularity of Sunday. Especially since Sunday observance would make Christianity more attractive to the pagans who already worshipped the sun on that day.

Hal Holbrook

For example, the Roman Emperor Constantine was, like Aurelian and Diocletian before him, a worshiper of the sun.  He was the first Emperor to profess belief in Christianity. 24

Hal Holbrook

It was during a crusade against his rivals that he was supposedly converted to Christianity.

Hal Holbrook

Sympathetic biographers claim that before a climactic battle near Rome Constantine saw a vision of a flaming cross in the sky. He credited this vision with his subsequent victory, and declared himself to be a Christian.

Hal Holbrook

Historians debate whether or not Constantine’s conversion was genuine, since he maintained his pagan superstitions throughout much of his reign. He consented to baptism only as he lay on his deathbed. Still, his reign did mark a dramatic turning point in the history of Christianity. In 313, with the agreement of his co-emperor Licinius, he effectively legalized the Christian religion. 

Announcer

“The reign of Constantine the Great forms one of the epochs in the history of the world. It is the era of the dissolution of the Roman empire; the commencement, or rather consolidation, of a kind of Eastern despotism, with a new capital…a new constitution…and, finally, a new religion.”
Henry Milman in History of Christianity. 25

Alan Reinach

Was Constantine converted to Christianity or was it the other way around? Who knows? But what’s important to us today is that what emerged was a different kind of church, a different kind of state. In fact, the two were so blended together it was hard to see where one ended and the other began.

 Hal Holbrook

It seems that Constantine’s personal religion was a mixture of Mithraic sun worship and Christianity. According to his Christian biographer, Eusebius, he taught all his armies to zealously honor the Lord’s day—Sunday—referring to it as “the day of light and of the sun” –distinctly pagan terminology. 26 Take a look at this passage from his famous Sunday law of AD 321.

Announcer

“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.”

Robert Johnston

The first law requiring people to celebrate on Sunday and rest on Sunday was a law promulgated by the emperor Constantine in the year 321. And he does it without any reference to Christian theology or Christian ideas. He says to abstain from labor on the venerable day of the sun, which is an allusion to the fact that the sun was becoming more and more the object of worship. So, the first Sunday law requiring people to keep Sunday had no Christian flavor at all.

Ron Mellor

Although Constantine promoted Christianity and built many many Christian churches, he closed very few pagan temples, and we have a Roman calendar from the year 354 - that’s about 17 years after the death of Constantine - which has four separate festivals each year to the sun god. It shows that the sun god survived not only Constantine but into the reigns of his immediate successors.

Chapter 10: The Sabbath Survives

Hal Holbrook

Did Constantine’s Sunday law settle the Saturday-Sunday issue? Not according to the records from the ancient city of Laodicea, where church leaders met near the middle of the fourth century.

Alan Reinach

The church council at Laodicea dealt specifically with the issue of what scriptures, if any, should be read at Sabbath services.

Announcer

“The Gospels are to be read on the Sabbath, i.e. Saturday, with the other Scriptures.”
Canon 16

Hal Holbrook

The fact that the Council addressed this issue is irrefutable proof that Christian church members were still attending worship services on the seventh-day Sabbath. Remember, this is more than 300 years after Christ. But there’s more.

Announcer

“Christians must not judaize by resting on the Sabbath, but must work on that day, rather honouring the Lord's Day; and, if they can, resting then as Christians. But if any shall be found to be judaizers, let them be anathema from Christ.” 
Canon 29

Alan Reinach

What did the council mean by Judaizers? Judaizers were those Christians who did not work on Sabbath, like the Jews. Church leaders wanted everyone to work on Sabbath and to refrain from work on the first day of the week, which they now called the Lord’s day. And this was consistent with the Sunday law enacted by the Emperor Constantine.

Hal Holbrook

In spite of the popularity of sun worship and the Sunday laws of emperors, many Christians continued to worship on the seventh-day Sabbath. In fact, Christian churches that abandoned the Sabbath were in the minority.

Announcer

“For although almost all churches throughout the world celebrate the sacred mysteries on the sabbath of every week, yet the Christians of Alexandria and at Rome, on account of some ancient tradition, have ceased to do this.” 27
Socrates Scholasticus, 5th Century AD.

Hal Holbrook

Without question, Christians were still observing the seventh-day Sabbath—clear down in the second half of the fourth century! In spite of theological arguments, anti-Jewish prejudice, and the decree of an emperor, the Sabbath of the Creator was not dead!

The succeeding centuries saw the Sabbath at the heart of controversy between popes and patriarchs. The weekly day of rest and worship became a test of church authority and a sign of submission to the sovereignty of a new kind of religious government. It became a major cause of the great rift that divided the Christian church for 900 years. More about all that when we return with Part Three of The Seventh Day.



Footnotes

"Mystery religion." Encyclopædia Britannica Online from Encyclopædia Britannica Premium Service. <http://www.britannica.com/eb/article?tocId=9108747>[Accessed March 23, 2005]. View source

"Lupercalia." Encyclopædia Britannica Online from Encyclopædia Britannica Premium Service. <http://www.britannica.com/eb/article?tocId=9049396> [Accessed March 23, 2005 ] View source

"Roman religion." Encyclopædia Britannica from Encyclopædia Britannica Premium Service.
< http://www.britannica.com/eb/article?tocId=65511> [Accessed March 30, 2005] ; Robert Leo Odom, Sunday in Roman Paganism, (Washington, DC: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1944), p. 42-45. View source

"Greek religion." Encyclopædia Britannica from Encyclopædia Britannica Premium Service.
< http://www.britannica.com/eb/article?tocId=9110627> [Accessed March 23, 2005]. View source

"Worship."  Encyclopædia Britannica from Encyclopædia Britannica Premium Service.
< http://www.britannica.com/eb/article?tocId=66233> [Accessed March 23, 2005]. View source

"Ancient Rome." Encyclopædia Britannica from Encyclopædia Britannica Premium Service.
< http://www.britannica.com/eb/article?tocId=26657> [Accessed March 23, 2005]. View source

"Roman religion." Encyclopædia Britannica from Encyclopædia Britannica Premium Service.
<http://www.britannica.com/eb/article?tocId=65520 > [Accessed March 23, 2005]. View source

New American Standard Bible, Exodus 31:13. View source

New American Standard Bible, John 5:16. View source

10 King James Version, Matthew 24:15, 16, 20. View source

11 "Vespasian." Encyclopædia Britannica from Encyclopædia Britannica Premium Service.
<http://www.britannica.com/eb/article?tocId=7677> [Accessed March 23, 2005]. View source

12 "Titus." Encyclopædia Britannica from Encyclopædia Britannica Premium Service.
<http://www.britannica.com/eb/article?tocId=9072659>[Accessed March 23, 2005].

13 "Jerusalem, Temple of." Encyclopædia Britannica from Encyclopædia Britannica Premium Service.
<http://www.britannica.com/eb/article?tocId=9043565> [Accessed March 23, 2005]. View source

14 New American Standard Bible, Hebrews 4:9, 10. View source

 15Dio Cassius, Roman History 68 <http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Roman/Texts/Cassius_Dio/68*.html [Accessed March 24, 2005]; see also Eusebius Pamphilus, “The Church History of Eusebius, Book IV, Chapter II”, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers,Series II, Vol. I. <http://www.ccel.org/fathers2/NPNF2-01/Npnf2-01-09.htm#P2227_1055358> [Accessed March 24, 2005]. View source

16 “The Bar-Kokhba Revolt.” Jewish Virtual Library from The American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise. http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Judaism/revolt1.html [Accessed March 28, 2005]. View source

17 "Alexandria." Encyclopædia Britannica from Encyclopædia Britannica Premium Service.
<http://www.britannica.com/eb/article?tocId=9106079> [Accessed March 28, 2005]. View source

18 Samuele Bacchiocchi,From Sabbath to Sunday (Rome: The Pontifical Gregorian University Press, 1977), pp. 218-220. View source

19 There is no unanimity among scholars as to the date when the Epistle of Barnabas was written. There is wide agreement that it was written before the Bar Kochba rebellion (132-135 AD). In our script we have used 120 AD as a compromise between the earlier and later dates suggested by the experts. Many advocates of an early date for Sunday observance in Asia Minor cite the Epistle to the Magnesians in support of their view. Written around A.D. 115 by Ignatius, bishop of Antioch, this epistle encourages Christian readers to renounce Jewish Sabbath customs. In chapter eight the bishop refers to the Old Testament prophets whose hope in the coming Messiah raised their Sabbath observance above the legalistic, perfunctory forms that were common among the Jews. In chapter nine he writes of those prophets that they were “no longer sabbatizing, but living according to the Lord’s life.” This is the way the earliest available Greek manuscript reads. Many translators have rendered the text this way: “no longer sabbatizing, but living according to the Lord’s day,” replacing “life” with “day.” The Greek word for “day” does not occur in the original. In addition, the context makes it clear that Ignatius is not referring to a “Lord’s day” as a replacement for the Sabbath. He is talking about the manner, not the time, of Sabbath observance. The fact that he addresses the issue of Jewish-style sabbatizing confirms that his Christian readers in the early second century were observing the Sabbath, albeit in a legalistic rather than a spiritual way. (For this explanation we are indebted to Kenneth A. Strand, “The ‘Lord’s Day’ in the Second Century” in The Sabbath in Scripture and History, Kenneth A. Strand, editor (Washington: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1982), p.p. 348-9.)

20 "Justin Martyr, Saint." Encyclopædia Britannica from Encyclopædia Britannica Premium Service.
<http://www.britannica.com/eb/article?tocId=9044213> [Accessed March 24, 2005]. View source

21 Justin Martyr. “The First Apology of Justin.” Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. I, chap. 67. From Christian Classics Ethereal Library. <http://www.ccel.org/fathers/ANF-01/just/justinapology1.html#Section67> [Accessed March29, 2005]. View source

22 "Colossus." Encyclopædia Britannica from Encyclopædia Britannica Premium Service.
<http://www.britannica.com/eb/article?tocId=9024850> [Accessed March 29, 2005]. View source

23 Sheldon Nodelman, “The Emperor Vanishes.” Art in America, March 3, 2001. From Highbeam Research <http://www.highbeam.com/library/doc3.asp?DOCID=1G1:71558214&num=2&ctrlInfo=Round9j%3AProd%3ASR%3AResult&ao=> [Accessed March 29, 2005]. View source

24 "Constantine I." Encyclopædia Britannica from Encyclopædia Britannica Premium Service.
<http://www.britannica.com/eb/article?tocId=9109633> [Accessed March 29, 2005]. View source

25 H. H. Milman, History of Christianity from the Birth of Christ to the Abolition of Paganism in the Roman Empire (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1872), p. 226. View source

26 Eusebius Pamphilus. “Life of Constantine.” Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series, vol. I, p. 545. From Christian Classics Ethereal Library. http://www.ccel.org/s/schaff/npnf201/htm/iv.vi.iv.xvii.htm [Accessed November 21, 2005]. View source

27 Socrates Scholasticus, Ecclesiastical History 5.22.  View source