Sabbath Sunday


Anonymous asked this question on 4/2/2001:

can you explain to me why the Christian Sabbath is held on Sunday rather then the original Saturday that it was practiced on by the Jews and for the first several hundred years of Christianity...who changed it and what reasons did they this not breaking one of the commandments of god? Thanks....



The joy of the Lord be in your heart.

The Sunday, the day of the Lord, has been observed by the Christians from the beginning (see Acts, xx 7; I Cor., xvi, 2; in Apoc., i, 10) when they came together to celebrate the Eucharist. The entire Christian community celebrated the first day as the day of the new creation through the resurrection of Christ.

It's not accurate that for the first several hundred years of Christianity observed the Sabbath.

Moreover, when in Hebrews the author decries the absence from the assembly he is talking about the Eucharist celebrated Sunday.

If you read the Didache, probably the oldest Christian document outside the NT, you will see that Sunday was imposed as a kind of law and observed in the second half of the first century.

You ask if observing Sunday is not breaking a commandment of the Lord.

Now let me ask you a question too: Are you circumcised? Do you shun pig and other "unclean" animals in your diet? Do you use separate pots and pans for milk and meat products?

I suppose you are not. Is this not breaking several of the commandments of God?

Your question necessarily arises when the only source of faith is Scripture. It's only logic that you have this kind of doubt.

If you read the last part of the gospel of Saint John, you find that the entire world couldn't contain the books if everything regarding Jesus had been written down.

Remember too that the culture of those times was mainly based on transmission by word of mouth. The gospels are only a condensed form, a sort of resume of the Christian faith. Consequently, much of the Christian faith taught by the apostles lived on through oral transmission. That's why even the evangelistic denominations are beginning to study the Church Fathers because they are the pillars of authoritative transmission.

An other logical difficulty is the question about images and statues, about sacraments and priesthood.

The denominations of recent date (I'm talking about the second millennium) have cut off this uninterrupted stream of faith preached and lived from the apostles until our times. They find themselves with Sola Scriptura. At the same time, they have to contend with the question: "Which of the thousand different denominations has the right interpretation of Sola Scriptura?"

The Churches with uninterrupted transmission don't have this kind of problem.

Please, you understand, I'm not making a moral judgment. He who loves will be admitted to the kingdom. However, that does not change the situation and the personal or corporative sin of Catholics does not invalidate that.

If you want a complete theological explanation of the Christian Sunday, please read John Paul's encyclical "Dies Domini (May 31, 1998)" at

It's a wonderful explanation.




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 (see CALENDAR). 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). Sunday was the first day of the week according to the Jewish method of reckoning, but for Christians it began to take the place of the Jewish Sabbath in Apostolic times as the day set apart for the public and solemn worship of God.

The practice of meeting together on the first day of the week for the celebration of the Eucharistic Sacrifice is indicated in Acts, xx 7; I Cor., xvi, 2; in Apoc., i, 10, it is called the Lord's day. In the Didache (xiv) the injunction is given: "On the Lord's Day come together and break bread. And give thanks (offer the Eucharist), after confessing your sins that your sacrifice may be pure". St. Ignatius (Ep. ad Magnes. ix) speaks of Christians as "no longer observing the Sabbath, but living in the observance of the Lord's Day, on which also Our Life rose again". In the Epistle of Barnabas (xv) we read: "Wherefore, also, we keep the eight day (i. e. the first of the week) with joyfulness, the day also on which Jesus rose again from the dead".

St. Justin is the first Christian writer to call the day Sunday (I Apol., lxvii) in the celebrated passage in which he describes the worship offered by the early Christians on that day to God. The fact that they came together and offered public worship on Sunday necessitated a certain rest from work on that day. However, Tertullian (202) is the first writer who expressly mentions the Sunday rest: "We, however (just as tradition has taught us), on the day of the Lord's Resurrection ought to guard not only against kneeling, but every posture and office of solicitude, deferring even our businesses lest we give any place to the devil" ("De orat.", xxiii; cf. "Ad nation.", I, xiii; "Apolog.", xvi).






 Where come these questions from?