Ambassador College
Church History
Lecture 9

How Sunday Worship Came to be Part of the Church

A. In days of Nimrod.
B. Shortly after the flood.
C. Paul dealt with it in the New Testament.
1. I Cor 8:1-5 - Sunday - day of the Lord (Baal's day)
     a.  Many gods and lords
2. Gal. 4:10 - Deals with pagan customs.
D. Rome was anti-sabbath very early because of Pagan
Practice and Anti-Semitism
E. Rome's attitude toward the Sabbath began to effect
Christianity about 70 A.D.

According to Dies Dominica, by F.A. Regan:

"The year A.D.  70 marks the decisive break between Sabbath and Sunday."   p. 18

Bacchiocchi adds:

"Rome adopted new political and fiscal policies against the Jews. Under Vespasian (A.D.  69- 79) both the Sanhedrin and the office of the High Priest were abolished and worship at the temple site was forbidden. Hadrian (A.D. 117-148) outlawed the practice of the Jewish religion and particularly the observance of the Sabbath." p.171    

A. Began around time of Constantine.
B. Sabbath keeping continued.
1.  In West until 600 A.D. (Rome and Italy).
2.  In East until 1000 A.D.

A.  Sunday worship evolved into state religion.
B.  His whole desire was unity - accomplished this through the church.

A Critical History of the Sabbath and Sunday, by A.H. Lewis, shows how his conversion was feigned:

"Although Constantine (A.D.  306-337) Professed conversion to Christianity, he was devoted to the Apollo of Greek and Roman mythology, and would represent himself with symbols of the god of light and poetry." p.138-139

In From Sabbath to Sunday, Carlyle B. Haynes explains how Sunday played an important part in unity of Rome:

"Two reasons why the Sabbath of the Lord was discarded and the day of sun worshippers was adopted:

    1) There was a strong desire to avoid being identified with the Jews, whose bigotry and downfall had made them unpopular.
    2) There was an equally strong desire to win the pagan sun worshippers and gain their adherence to the church." p. 31

D.  Constantineís' Edict on Heresy - no date.
    1.  Prohibits assembling of any other church.
    2.  Catholic church given permission to confiscate property belonging to heretics.

Constantine's Edict states:

"Victor Constantinus, Maximus Augustus, to the heretics.... Forasmuch, then, as it is no longer possible to bear with your pernicious errors, we give warning by this present statute that none of you henceforth presume to assemble yourselves   together.    We have directed, accordingly, that you be deprived of all the houses in which you are accustomed to hold your assemblies: and our care in this respect extends so far as to forbid the holding of your superstitious and senseless meetings, not in public merely, but in any private house or place whatsoever.

"Let those of you, therefore, who are desirous   of embracing the true and   pure religion, take   the far better course of entering the catholic Church, and uniting with it in holy fellowship, whereby you will be enabled to arrive at the knowledge of the truth.   In any case, the delusions of your perverted understandings must entirely cease to mingle with and mar the felicity of our present times:"

E.  What early church writers had to say...
    1.  Eusebius describes enforcement of decree.
        a.  "Lurking places of be had..."

"Thus were the lurking-places of the heretics broken up by the emperorís command, and the savage beasts they harbored (I mean the chief   authors of their impious doctrines) driven to flight.... Accordingly, numbers...acknowledged the Church as a mother from whom they had wandered long, and to whom they now returned with joy and gladness.   Thus the members of the entire body became united, and compacted in one harmonious whole; and the one catholic Church, at unity with itself, shone with full luster, while no heretical or schismatic body anywhere continued to exist. And the credit of having achieved this mighty work our Heaven-protected emperor alone, of all who had gone before him, was able to attribute to himself."

        b.  Pressure was great
     c.  People forced back into Catholic Church
    2.  Justin Martyr:
        a.  Describes how Sunday was kept.

"And on the day called Sunday, all who live in cities or in the country gather together to one place, and the memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read, as long as time permits....  Then we all rise together and pray, and...bread and wine and water are brought."

        b.   His justification for keeping Sunday:

"First day God wrought day in light....Ē They observe the day God began his work....  "For He was crucified on the day before that of Saturn; and on the day after that of Saturn, which is the day of the sun, having appeared to His apostles and disciples, He taught them these things, which we have submitted to you also for your consideration."

Note the Anti-Jewish sentiment of Justin in his Dialogue:

"The Sabbath is a temporary ordinance, derived from Moses, which God did not intend to be kept literally, for He Himself does not stop controlling the movement of the universe on that day. He imposed it solely on the Jews as a mark to single them out for punishment they so well deserved for their infidelities." text 23,3

    3.  Tertullian - late 2nd century.
     a.  Sunday a day of "festivity"
     b.  Says pagans started, they now continued

Tertullian, the father of Latin Christianity, never cites any scripture for his beliefs.   He claims tradition for the customs of his day.  Here is what he wrote about Sunday:
"If, for these and other such rules, you insist upon having positive Scripture injunction, you will find none. Tradition will be held forth to you as the originator of them, custom as their strengthener, and faith, as their preserver. That reason will support tradition, and custom, and faith, you will either yourself perceive, or learn from some one who has."

F.  Doctrine concerning Sunday...
1.  Friday was the crucifixion and Sunday was the resurrection - commonly accepted as fact.
2.  Sunday not kept in same manner as the sabbath.
3.  Never regarded as commandment.
G.  Edict of Constantine (Milan - 313 A.D.)
1.  First Sunday law.
     a.   Declares day of rest and closure of business on Sunday
     b.   Day set aside for fasting
2.  Saturday could be kept, but people were required to work

According to Codex Justinianus, lib. 3,  tit. 12, 3; translated in History of the Christian Church, by Schaff, Vol. III, p. 380:

"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 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."

IV.   Catholics continued side by side in Saturday  / Sunday Observance.

1.  Took a long time to do away with the Sabbath.
2.  Required to work on Sabbath - observed as Sunday is today.

Cannon 19 of The Council of Laodicea says:

"The Gospels are to be read on   the Sabbath, with the other Scriptures (see Nicene and Post Nicene Fathers, p. 133).

A.  Socrates - late 4th century.
1.  Catholic historian.
2.  Called Sunday,  "the Lord's day" as a day honoring the resurrection.
3.  Reviews history of the early church.

In Bingham's Antiquities, we read what Socrates says:

"Saturday and the Lord's day [were] the two great festivals, on which they always held church assemblies. And Cassian takes notice of the Egyptian churches, that among them the service of the Lord's Day and the Sabbath was always the same."

B.  Gregory - shortly after the Council of Laodicea.
1.  Said both Saturday and Sunday were "sister."

"With what eyes can you behold the Lord's day, when you despise the Sabbath? Do you not perceive that they are sisters, and that in slighting the one, you affront the other?"

    2.  Problem not the day, but how it was kept.

C.  Augustine - 400 A.D.
1.  Story of Jewish Sabbath transferred to Sunday.
2.  Sunday is taking pre-eminence.

  Augustine, around 400 A.D., declared:
"The holy doctors of the church have decreed that all the glory of the Jewish Sabbath is transferred to it [Sunday].   Let us therefore keep the Lordís day as the ancients were commanded to do the Sabbath."

    3.  Modern religions admit basis unscriptural and are a result of the Roman Catholic Church.

From Cardinal Gibbon's Book, Faith of Our Fathers, we read:

"A rule of Faith, or a competent guide to heaven, must be able to instruct in all the truths   necessary for salvation. Now the Scriptures alone do not contain all the truths, which a Christian is bound to believe, not do they explicitly enjoin all the duties, which he is obliged to practice. Not to mention other examples, is not every Christian obliged to sanctify Sunday, and to abstain on that day from unnecessary servile work? Is not the observance of this law among the most prominent of our sacred duties? But you may read the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, and you will not find a single line authorizing the sanctification of Sunday. The Scriptures enforce the religious observance of Saturday, a day which we never sanctify." p. 89

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