The Sabbath Been Changed?
M. L. Andreasen
“An honest man, when presented with the truth,
will do one of two things:
he will continue to be an honest man,
or he will become a liar.”
From the book “A Faith to Live By”
Originally published in 1943.
Printed for the author by:
Revelation Messengers Publishing
Milian Lauritz Andreasen (1876-1962) was born in Copenhagen, Denmark. He
immigrated first to Canada and then to the United States. Possessing
a powerful mind and a liking for hard work, Andreasen was ordained to
the ministry in 1902 and quickly rose to positions of leadership. As
a Christian Minister, theologian, and author, He was especially
interested in teaching the pure Biblical doctrine as originally given
by God to mankind. Among many of the high positions in which he
served, some of these were: president of Hutchinson Theological
Seminary (1910-1918) in Minnesota, where also Danish and Norwegian
language workers were given training. Dean of Union College
(1918-1922), dean of Washington Missionary (now Columbia Union)
College (1922-1924), president of Union College (1931-1938), and from
1938 to 1949, he also taught at the Theological Seminary in
Washington, D.C. M.L. Andreasen wrote many articles and more than 13
books, including The
Sanctuary Service, The Epistle to the Hebrews, A Faith to Live By,
What Can a Man Believe?, and Saints
and sinners. Throughout the 1940s,
Andreasen was considered a leading doctrinal expert, also a special
authority in the study of the Sanctuary message. As were the apostles
of Christ, he suffered the scorn and persecution from those who’s
religion is contrary to the Truth.
Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer
persecution.” II Timothy 3;12
“But in vain
teaching for doctrines
Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shall thou labor, and do all thy work: but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shall not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it.” Exodus 20:84 1.
The wording of this commandment is very explicit. There is no doubt whatever that it proclaims the seventh day as the Sabbath of the Lord. It is also clear that it is addressed to men, and defines their duty in regard to God’s holy day. “In it thou shall not do any work.” Nothing could be clearer or more specific. If this commandment is still in force in the New Testament dispensation, then there is not the slightest doubt regarding which day is the Sabbath. “The seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord.”
After their experience with the golden calf Israel did better for a time. But when they had come into the promised land, and were scattered over large stretches of territory without immediate sanctuary privileges, they again became careless. The heathen were not driven out, and their presence served as a continued temptation to apostasy. Israel began to serve other gods, and one of the first evidences of this was slackness in regard to the observance of the Sabbath.
God reproves His people
For this they were reproved and warned by the prophets. God could not permit His people to desecrate the Sabbath by carrying on their regular business on that day, by buying and selling; so He sent word to them through Jeremiah, as exemplified in the following message: “Take heed to yourselves, and bear no burden on the Sabbath day, nor bring it in by the gates of Jerusalem. Neither carry forth a burden out of your houses on the Sabbath day, neither do you any work, but hallow you the Sabbath day, as I commanded your fathers.” Jeremiah 17:21, 22. But the people did not listen: “They obeyed not, neither inclined their ear, but made their neck stiff, that they might not hear, nor receive instruction.” Verse 23.
God had given His people great and precious promises of blessing if they would obey Him and do His will. These promises were now repeated in a very definite form upon the condition that they should keep the Sabbath. Note what God told Israel: “If you diligently hearken unto Me, said the Lord, to bring in no burden through the gates of this city on the Sabbath day, but hallow the Sabbath day, to do no work therein; then shall there enter into the gates of this city kings and princes sitting upon the throne of David, riding in chariots and on horses, they, and their princes, the men of Judah, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem: and this city shall remain forever.” Jeremiah 17:24, 25.
It was about this time that Nebuchadnezzar came up to Jerusalem to take it. He was a king of mighty Babylon, and there was little hope that a nation like Israel could withstand his onslaughts. In fact, God had chosen him as His instrument to punish Israel for its back sliding. And so the promise is definitely given to the people that if they will “hallow the Sabbath day, to do no work therein,” Jerusalem shall not be destroyed, but become a mighty city with kings and princes sitting upon the throne of David, “and this city shall remain forever.”
On the other hand, “if you will not hearken unto Me to hallow the Sabbath day, and not to bear a burden, even entering in at the gates of Jerusalem on the Sabbath day. Then will I kindle fire in the gates thereof, and it shall devour the palaces of Jerusalem, and it shall not be quenched.” Verse 27.
Israel did not repent. Israel did not keep the Sabbath according to the commandment. And so the Babylonian king came and “burnt the house of the Lord, and the king’s house, and all the houses of Jerusalem, and every great man’s house burnt he with fire. And all the army of the Chaldees, that were with the captain of the guard, brake down the walls of Jerusalem round about. Now the rest of the people that were left in the city, and the fugitives that fell away to the king of Babylon, with the remnant of the multitude, did Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard carry away.” 2 Kings 25:9-11.
God had sent them messengers with warnings and entreaties, but “they mocked the messengers of God, and despised His words, and misused His prophets, until the wrath of the Lord arose against His people, till there was no remedy.” 2 Chronicles 36:16. Dreadful words-”till there was no remedy.” God had done all that He could for them. He had sent warnings, but they would not listen. He had reminded them of their remissness in Sabbath keeping and had graciously promised to spare their city if they would observe the Sabbath day. But they refused to change their ways. So their beautiful city was destroyed “to fulfill the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed her Sabbaths: for as long as she lay desolate she kept Sabbath, to fulfill threescore and ten years.” 2 Chronicles 36:21.
A lesson such as this should not be lost to posterity. God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. His principles, His law, do not change. It can hardly be supposed that He would treat Israel of old
as He did and take an altogether different course with transgressors in the New Testament dispensation. If God really did the things here noted because Israel had become careless of the law; if God really has made the Sabbath commandment a part of the law kept beneath the mercy seat, the transgression of which necessitated atonement, can we believe that He now looks with indifference on the transgression of any of His commandments?
We have been considering the Sabbath in the old dispensation. Our consideration has not been exhaustive. Much more might be said, and many more texts might be presented. Enough has been set down here to bring the subject clearly before the reader. The Old Testament teaches that the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord, that God holds it in high regard, and that He wants His people to observe it. It teaches that God punished those who of old ignored the day and desecrated it, and that the Jews were carried into captivity because of their violation of the seventh-day Sabbath. So far as we have studied we are impressedwith the fact that God is in earnest, and that we can ignore the Sabbath only at the peril of our souls. We now come to a consideration of the Sabbath in the New Testament.
Has the Sabbath Been Changed?
There is a widespread opinion that the Sabbath which God instituted in Eden is not binding in the new (Christian) dispensation. This opinion is favored by the fact that many Christians observe the first day of the week instead of the seventh, the day which God sanctified and blessed at creation. This is an important matter, one which should be thoroughly explored. In the study of the question we shall have recourse to the Bible. In a matter affecting one of the commandments of God, we dare not let any man, however great, be the deciding factor.
So far, we have found unanimity of opinion with reference to the Sabbath. Again and again the record reads: “The seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God.” There is no mention of any other day. The Old Testament knows only one Sabbath, the seventh day of the week. On this all are agreed, whatever day they may keep personally. God commanded that Israel should keep holy the day which He sanctified at creation. He embodied this precept in the law of the ten commandments, thus giving it an equal status with
the other commandments. So far as the law is concerned, therecord is clear. “The seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord.” Exodus 20:10.
We therefore raise the question: Are Christians exempt from the obligation to keep God’s commandments? Was God in Old Testament times so very careful of His Sabbath that He would bring dire punishment on those who did not observe it, and did He then suddenly change His mind and become indifferent to its observance?
God Must Be Plain.
It would seem that if there were to be any change in the fourth commandment, such a change should have been common knowledge and should have been definitely announced. That is, if from acertain time God wished men’ thenceforth to keep the first day of the week instead of the seventh, this should have been plainly stated, not only so that it could be understood, but so that it could not be misunderstood. This is essential. God is in the habit of speaking plainly. Look at any of the commandments and see how concisely and definitely each of them conveys its message. There is no way of misunderstanding any of them. No one will ever be able to say that he did not know his duty because God did not make it plain. That, of course, is one of the essentials of law. It must be worded in such language that its meaning is plain. And this must in a special way be true of the law of God; for the punishment for its transgression is so tremendous that it would be the height of crime to hold men responsible for its violation if there were the least possibility of its intent not being clear. God would never be able to face His creatures in the judgment; God would cease to be a God of justice, did He not make plain His intent. We say it reverently: God must make His intent plain.
This applies specifically to the supposed change of the law of God. There has been no repeal of the Ten Commandments; there has been no enactment of any other law to take their place; and there has been no announcement by God or by His authorization of any contemplated change. In fact, quite the opposite is true, for Christ, when He was here on earth, lived out the law, expounded it, and proclaimed, its binding quality. We shall now address ourselves to more detailed consideration of these questions.
Christ Upholds the Law
Christ’s opposition to the many burdens and restrictions which the Pharisees had placed upon the Sabbath caused some to think that He disregarded the day. They likewise felt that He thought lightly of the law, and that He had come to destroy or abolish it. Christ met these thoughts and suggestions with a definite statement in regard to His attitude toward the law.
“Think not,” He said, “that I am come to destroy the law or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. 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.” Matthew 5:17, 18. When Christ stated that He did not come to destroy the law; when He said that those who teach the law shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven; when He said that it is easier for heaven and earth to pass than for one tittle of the law to fail, He had reference first of all to the law of God as contained in the Ten Commandments. We cannot lightly brush these statements aside as of little importance. Christ was accused of breaking the Sabbath and destroying the law even after announcing His creed, as it were.
Foremost in this “creed” is the statement that He stands by the law, that He is not destroying it, that He reverences it highly. So, far from attempting to destroy it, He says it is easier for heaven and earth to pass than for one tittle of the law to fail.
If we apply this latter statement to the Sabbath commandment, we would certainly not come to the conclusion that it is an easy matter to change seven to one, as would have to be done if the first day were, to be the Sabbath, rather than the seventh. It would not be changing merely one word. The whole commandment would need to be changed. The reason given in the commandment for keeping the Sabbath is that God worked six days and rested on the seventh. The statement is very definite: “The seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God.” Exodus 20:10. It would not make sense to say: “Remember the first day, to keep it holy. Six days shall thou labor, and do all thy work: but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God: on the first day thou shall not do any work; for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the first day, and hallowed it,”
That would be confusion confounded. No one would be able to see any reason for keeping the first day, because God kept the seventh. To say that God worked six days and rested the seventh, and that we therefore ought to keep the first day, does not seem sensible or convincing. It would therefore not be enough to change a word only of the commandment if we change the observance from the seventh to the first day of the week. We would have to change the very reason for keeping the Sabbath. But if Christ says that it is easier for heaven and earth to pass than for one tittle of the law to fail, what shall we say of changing many tittles and many words? It cannot be done, according to Christ’s pronouncement.
The statement, “The seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God,” has not been given due emphasis. It does not say that the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Jew or the Gentile, the bond or the free, man or woman, but that it is the Sabbath of the Lord. If God were asked, “Which day, Lord, is your Sabbath, the first or the seventh day?” He would answer in the language of the commandment: “The seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God. And He would address the following command to the questioner: “In it thou shall not do any work.” This would be embarrassing to one who keeps the first day of the week. But in reality does not this settle the question of which day is the Sabbath? When God says, “The seventh day is the Sabbath,” who dares contradict Him and say, “No, Lord, the first day is the Sabbath”? In the language of man God might answer, “Do not think that the first day is My Sabbath; ‘the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord.’ I don’t want you, to do any work in it. ‘Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.”
Obedience a Symbol of Love
The Sabbath question is larger than the mere keeping of this or that day. It is a question of obeying God or not obeying Him. It is a question of observing His law or violating it. And it, concerns not the Sabbath commandment only. It concerns the whole law. “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, andyet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.” James 2:10. Lest any should be in doubt regarding which law is meant-the Ten Commandments or the Levitical law - James adds: “For He that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law.” Verse 11.
This makes the breaking or the treating lightly of one of the commandments a serious matter. Not one jot or one tittle of the law must be changed, Christ says. Was He thinking of the time when some would attempt to change it? May it not be the same thing James had in mind when he said: “Who looks into the perfect law of liberty, and continues therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed”? James 1:25. Not a forgetful hearer! What is there in the law that reminds us of not forgetting? There is one commandment that begins with “remember.” Did James think of this when he said that we must not be forgetful hearers, but doers? The man who is a doer “shall be blessed in his deed.”
Some Christians object to James because they think he speaks too much of the law. After all, they say, we are not saved by the law, but by faith. To this we agree. Does faith, then, make the law of none effect? Let us ask Paul. He himself propounds the question, and answers it: “Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.” Romans 3:31. The Greek word here translated “establish” means to place, to set, to cause to stand. It is the same word that is used in Hebrews 10:9, where one law-the one dealing with “sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offering for sin” is “taken away,” and where the other law-the one which Christ has in His heart, the Ten Commandments-is established. “He takes away the first, that He may establish the second.” Hebrews 10:6-9. Let those who believe that the moral law is taken away ponder this text.
If the ten commandment law is the law which is taken away, then there is only one other conclusion regarding the law that is established: it must be the law of offerings. Do any wish to contend that Christ abolished the moral law, the Ten Commandments, and established the law of “sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offering for sin”? Yet the one is taken away; the other is established. There is only one answer to this question. The law that was taken away was the Levitical law, and the one that was established was the moral law of God, the eternal, unchangeable transcript of God’s own character, the Ten Commandments.
Some people object to Paul. They think he stresses the law even more than does James. They wish a religion that is emasculated, one in which all that is stern and hard and unpleasant is taken away, and only that which is easy and pleasant and soft is left. They seem to forget that life is real, that Christianity is real, and that, there is a cross to bear as well as a crown to be won. Such persons enjoy quoting certain passages from John. He is the apostle of love. He does not deal with such unpleasant matters as duty and law. With him all is love. Let us accept their invitation and follow them to John and note what he says of love. The Apostle of love John was and is the apostle of love. That is his great theme. And rightly so, for God Himself is a God of love. He not merely loves-He is love. So let us find out from John himself what his conception of love is.
We ask: “John, just what is love?” He answers: “This is the love of God, that we keep His commandments.” 1 John 5:3. “Why, John, we have been taught that that is a grievous and hard thing to do.” “No, ‘His commandments are not grievous. Verse 3. “We are perplexed, John, at this answer. You say that if we love God, we will keep His commandments. Now, we are not heathen; we are Christians. We know God. We love God, but we do not keep His commandments.” “He that said, I know Him, and keeps not His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.” 1 John 2:4. “Why, John, this is almost worse than what James and Paul say. Do you really mean that if we love God, we must keep His commandments?” “This is the love of God, that we keep His commandments.” “He that said he abides in Him ought himself also so to walk, even as He walked.” 1 John 5:3; 2:6.
“How did Christ walk? Did He keep the commandments?” “Yes. Christ says: ‘I have kept My Father’s commandments, and abide in His love.” John 15:10. “Is it not enough to love God and the children of God, without having to keep the law?” “There is no way that we can know that we love God or the children of God without keeping the commandments. ‘We know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep His commandments.” 1 John 5:2. “If we have God and the Spirit dwelling in the heart, do we need to keep the commandments?”
“God has promised to dwell in the heart of the man who keeps the law. ‘He that keeps His commandments dwells in Him, and He in him.”’ 1 John 3:24. “Are we then to understand that if we profess to love God, we must keep the commandments?” “Yes, there is no other way. Christ Himself says: ‘If you love Me, keep My commandments.” John 14:15.
These texts bring vividly to mind the fact that the love of God and the commandments of God are closely united. They do not give the least hint that the commandments have been repealed. John, the apostle of love, is also the apostle of the law. When John says that “this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments,” and that “he that said, I know Him, and keeps not His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him,” there does not seem to be much to say in reply. 1 John 5:3; 2:4. If a man should say this to us, we might be offended, for the words are very plain and do not admit of more than one meaning. But when God speaks, we keep silent. We admit our shortcomings and ask God for forgiveness and for strength to do what we ought. This is true Christianity.
So far we have not found anything in the New Testament that would give us the idea that we might play fast and loose with God’s law. On the contrary, we have found that the test of our love for God is our attitude toward the law. If we love God, we will keep the commandments. This, of course, is as it should be. The law is an expression of God’s will. It defines sin and warns against it. For this we should be thankful. We would not have known sin, but through the law. We would not have known that it is sin to covet, any more than did Paul, “except the law had said, Thou shall not covet.” -Romans M. As we should be thankful to a faithful guide who points out to us the danger of the way, so we should be thankful to the law for its insistence on righteousness and holy living. It is to be seriously doubted that one who does not love the law loves the Lord. He may be in ignorance, but when light comes, the man who loves God gladly accepts the law as his rule of life.
The Sabbath and the Law
The Sabbath stands or falls with the law. If the law is still in force, the Sabbath is in force. If the law is done away, then the Sabbath is done away. The Sabbath is an integral part of the law, and its future is bound up with it. What happens to one happens to the other. What reason could there ever be in heaven or in earth for the abrogation of the law? It condemns sin. Is not this needed? We are at a loss to understand how any person could wish to have a law abolished that is as faithful as is the moral law in pointing out sin. As a physician diagnoses a case, so the law diagnoses the case of each one of us. It finds the disease spot and makes possible the application of a remedy.
It may be conceived that a person who is sick does not wish to find out what ails him, but if so, it must not be because he does not wish to get well, or else there is something wrong with his mental processes. No, the person who is sick and wishes to get well, must, first of all, have a thorough examination. His condition must be understood by the physician, his life history must be reviewed. The physician may ask some embarrassing questions, but if the patient wishes to be helped, he will tell the truth. So the physician probes deep. All contributing factors are weighed, all inherited and cultivated tendencies are examined. At last the diagnosis is complete. The physician gives his verdict. The patient knows what is wrong with him. He must now decide for himself whether he will follow the advice of the physician or ignore it. The doctor has done his part. The patient must take the next step.
This matter of diagnosis is the work of the law in co-operation with the Holy Spirit. The law points out the sin; the Holy Spirit says, Thou art the man. The law points out general conditions and principles; the Holy Spirit makes an individual application of them. The law defines sin; the Holy Spirit convinces of it. We must therefore be careful not to do despite to the Holy Spirit and neglect His warnings. We do so at the peril of our souls.
Why, then, should anyone object to the law? It seems beyond comprehension that a person-and, above all, a Christian-should believe and teach that the law is no more in force. Do such persons mean to say that the commandment against stealing has been abolished? That cannot be. Do they mean to say that men henceforth may kill with impunity? They surely cannot mean that.
Then what do they mean? Each commandment taken by itself is still in force, but the law when considered as a whole is repealed! Why such inconsistency?
There is only one consistent position. If the law stands, the Sabbath stands. The only way to avoid the Sabbath obligation is to do away with the whole law. This is rather drastic treatment, but to some it seems preferable to acknowledging God’s original day. And so they perform the mental gymnastics of abolishing the entire ten commandment law and then re-enact the nine commandments, leaving out the fourth-the one which is objectionable. They fail to understand that their attitude toward one commandment determines their attitude toward all of them. They are in reality at war with God and with His law, though they may not intend to be.
There is no fact clearer in the Bible, in both the Old and the New Testaments, than that God’s law is eternal in its nature, and that it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one jot or one tittle of that law to fail. Is it not therefore strange that in view of all this testimony, men should still believe that the law is of a temporary nature and can be broken without breaking fellowship with God?
A Day of Rest for Modern Man
To the question, is there any mention in the New Testament of the first day of the week? we answer cheerfully that there is. We not only admit it, we affirm it. There are eight texts that mention that day. We urge these texts upon the attention of the reader. No study would be complete without a discussion of them, for upon them hangs much.
The eight places in the New Testament where the first day of the week is mentioned are as follows: Matthew 28: 1; Mark 16:1, 2, 9; Luke 24: 1; John 20: 1, 19; Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 16:2. Six of these texts refer to the same day, the day of the resurrection. Of the other two, one refers to a meeting held by Paul, and one to a collection to be taken on the first day of the week. We shall consider these more in detail.
The first text reads, “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 sepulcher.” Matthew 28:1. It is to be noted that Matthew differentiates between the Sabbath and the first day of the week. The Sabbath is one day, the first day of the week is another. Matthew could just as well have said: “When the old Jewish Sabbath was past, and the new first-day Sabbath had come.” But he said no such thing, although he wrote several years after the crucifixion. Not a hint is given here that there is any change in the seventh-day Sabbath.
The next text reads: “When the Sabbath was past, very early in the morning the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulcher at the rising of the sun. The ninth verse states: “Now when Jesus was risen early the first day of the week, He appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom He had cast seven devils.” These two texts in Mark mention the same day that was mentioned by Matthew. Note that Mark also makes a distinction between the Sabbath and the first day of the week. He says: “When the Sabbath was past, very early in the morning the first day of the week.” Mark wrote some thirty years after the resurrection. He could easily have put in a word concerning the new Sabbath had he so wished and had there been a new Sabbath. And he ought to have done so if it was God’s intention to institute a new day of rest and worship. But Mark says nothing of a new Sabbath. The reason is that he knew of no change.
The next text is Luke 24: 1. It mentions the same day as the others: “Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulcher, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them.” The preceding verses throw a little light on the circumstances which surround this visit of the women to the tomb. Christ had been crucified on the preparation day, and “the Sabbath drew on.” Luke 23:54. After they had seen where Christ was laid, “they returned, and prepared spices and ointments; and rested the Sabbath day according to the commandment.” Verse 56. Then follows: “Now upon the first day of the week.” Luke 24:1. The situation is the same as in the other cases: the Sabbath was past when the first day of the week came. In this case we are definitely told that this Sabbath was “according to the commandment.” Luke wrote more than twenty years after the resurrection.
The fifth text is John 20:1. It reads: “The first day of the week comes Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulcher, and sees the stone taken away from the sepulcher.” This is substantially the same record that Luke gives. Christ was crucified on the preparation day, and “that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the Sabbath day, (for that Sabbath day was an high day,)” the Jews “besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away.” John 19:31. Again we have the Sabbath mentioned as coming before the first day of the week. John wrote about the close of the first century, nearly seventy years after the resurrection. If God intended to confer any sacredness on the first day of the week, would it not have been fitting for John to say a word about this, rather than to call the seventh day the Sabbath, and merely refer to the other day as the first day of the week?
The sixth text is found in John 20:19: “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 said unto them, Peace be unto you.” This was not Christ’s first appearance. He had previously “appeared in another form unto two of them, as they walked into the country.” Mark 16:12. These two had hurriedly returned to Jerusalem to tell the others what they had experienced. “They went and told it unto the residue: neither believed they them.” Verse 13. When Christ suddenly appeared to the disciples, He “upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen Him after He was risen.” Verse 14. Some say that the disciples were together to celebrate the resurrection. But in the face of this testimony, how can anyone. believe this? The fact as stated is that “they believed not them which had seen Him after He was risen.” For this Christ “upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart.” Nor were they together to celebrate the Lord’s supper. They were in that room because they lived there, and “for fear of the Jews.” And it was for this reason that “the doors were shut.” John 20:19. They were having an evening meal, and when Christ came “they gave Him a piece of a broiled fish, and of a honeycomb. And He took it, and did eat before them.” Luke 24:42, 43. This can hardly be called a communion service or a celebration of the resurrection. Neither fish nor honey is used in communion.
These texts exhaust the statements concerning the day of the resurrection. Two other first-day texts remain which we shall now consider.
A Sunday Meeting
The first of these texts is Acts 20:7: “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 midnight.” Here is a meeting, and the first and only meeting specifically recorded in the New Testament as being held on the first day of the week. They were together “to break bread.” Paul preached, and “continued his speech until midnight.” We do not know what time they began the meeting, but we know that it lasted till after midnight. “There were many lights in the upper chamber.” A young man was sitting in the window, “and as Paul was long preaching, he sunk down with sleep, and fell down from the third loft, and was taken up dead.” Acts 20:9. Paul went down and restored him to life, after which they broke bread “and talked a long while, even till break of day, so he departed.” Verse 11. Commentators are not agreed what evening this meeting was held.
The Biblical day, which the Jews followed, begins at sunset. The first day of the week would therefore begin at sunset Saturday evening. When it says that this meeting was held the first day of the week, the question arises whether by this is meant the evening of Saturday or of Sunday. If Sunday is meant, and the meeting was held after sunset, then, of course, it was really the second day of the week, and as they had a long meeting, they did not break bread until Monday morning, some time after midnight. As far as we can learn from the record, it was about midnight when the young man fell down. It was after this that they broke bread and continued until morning. The breaking of the bread was therefore on Monday and not on Sunday, if the meeting was held Sunday evening as some believe.
If the other view is taken-and this we believe is the more probable-then the meeting was held on what we would call Saturday night, beginning after sunset. Paul has been in Troas seven days. (Acts 20:6) He is on his way to Jerusalem, but he has tarried at Troas to visit the church and to meet his companions on the journey, who have preceded him here. After the Sabbath he wishes to resume his journey. But before leaving, he meets once more with the church. It is a farewell meeting, and he is “ready to depart on the morrow.” According to this view, the meeting was held on the first day of the week as the text says. On the whole this seems the more probable. The next day, Sunday, Paul starts on his journey, walking nineteen miles to Assos, where he took ship; “for so had he appointed, minding himself to go afoot.” Verse 13. Paul had the same custom as Christ. He went to church on the Sabbath day. (Luke 4:16; Acts 17:2; 13:14; 16:13) He doubtless did the same at Troas. But on the first day of the week he started on a long journey afoot. Apparently he did not consider the day different from the other working days.
The last text in which the first day of the week is mentioned is 1 Corinthians 16:2. “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 1 come.” Alford, in his New Testament for English Readers, says of the translation: “Literally, let each of you lay up at home whatsoever he may by prosperity have acquired.” The Cambridge Bible, though also holding to Sunday sacredness,says: “Not that the contribution is not paid into a common fund, but laid by at home.- The Greek reading is clear. It is not a public collection. Each is to lay by him- that is, at home-whatever he may have. So the Vulgate translates it, and also the German by Luther, several French translations, the Italian of Diodati, the Spanish, and others. These are all the texts in the New Testament that mention the first day of the week. None of them speak of the day as holy; none of them call it the Sabbath; none ofthem command its observance; none of them say that the day has taken the place of the seventh-day Sabbath.
The question may arise in the minds of some why the first day of the week is mentioned in the New Testament. God certainly knew that many would begin its observance. Would it not have been better under these circumstances to ignore the day and not to mention it at all? Why mention the first day when it might only cause confusion?
We think this question deserves consideration. Let us therefore hasten to remark that we believe that God had good reasons for wishing to mention the first day of the week. One reason would be that He wished to make it very clear to all that the first day is not the Sabbath, that it is only a common workingday, and thus forestall any argument that might be propounded from silence. Also, by making a contrast between the two days, calling one day the Sabbath, He would make clear His position in the matter. It will be remembered that the first six times the first day is mentioned in the New Testament it is distinctly declared that the first day follows the Sabbath, and hence it is not the Sabbath. The Sabbath is mentioned as being “according to the commandment” (Luke 23:56); it is said to follow the preparation day(John 19:31); it is said to come before the first day of the week (Mark 16:1 2).
The women who followed -Christ rested on the Sabbath, 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.” Mark 16:1. When the disciples were together in the evening, to make sure that it should not be understood to be a meeting to celebrate the resurrection or the Lord’s supper, it is stated that the disciples were together for fear of the Jews; that the doors were shut. That they did not believe that Jesus had arisen from the dead. That they were full of doubt and unbelief; that Jesus rebuked them for this; and that they ate fish and honeycomb, and were not celebrating the Lord’s supper. (John 20:9; Mark 16:13, 14; Luke 24:42, 43)
These texts all give evidence of having been put there for the specific purpose of telling us that the first day of the week is not the Sabbath, and that the seventh day of the week is. The other two texts bring the same testimony. Paul held a meeting Saturday night as he was about to begin a long journey. The meeting is recorded to tell us of a miracle which Paul performed that night, but the author takes occasion to inform us that the next day, Sunday, Paul walked nineteen miles on his journey, a thing he would not have done on the Sabbath. (Acts 20:6-12).
The last text, 1 Corinthians 16:2, tells us, On the first day of the week, “every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him.” This was to be done “at home,” as has been noted; hence no public meeting is signified. Moreover, each believer was to lay by “as God hath prospered him.” This would necessitate going over the records of the week. Many of the people were traders, and only by examining their accounts could they know their financial standing. This work was not to be done on the Sabbath, but they were to wait until the first day of the week. On that day they could do their bookkeeping and balance their accounts. This is what the text says.
God could have omitted all record of the first day of the week had He so desired. But that would not have helped matters any. There would have to be a historical record of some kind, and He chose to do it this way,the best of all possible ways. As God in the beginning began His work on the first day of the week, worked six days, and rested the seventh, so in the new creation Christ finished His work, rested the seventh day, and arose the first day of the week to begin His new work of redemption. The fact that God began His work on the first day of the week no more makes it the Sabbath of the Old Testament than the fact that Christ during His earthly ministry began His work on the first day of the week makes it the Sabbath of the New Testament. The two accounts correspond. In each it is made very plain, not only which day is the Sabbath, but also which day is not the Sabbath. God Himself could not make it plainer.
Who Changed the Sabbath?
With the clear testimony of the Bible that “the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord,” and that the keeping of the first day of the week has no basis whatever in that inspired Book, the question naturally arises how it came about that so many people keep Sunday, if they keep any day at all, and that so few people keep the Sabbath commanded in the Bible, the seventh day of the week, Saturday.
The history of the attempted change of the Sabbath is a long one. Christ, the apostles, and the early church kept the seventh day of the week. But when Christianity began to be popular, a gradual change took place. Advocating and taking the leadership in this change was the pope of Rome. Usurping the place of Christ, claiming to be the vicegerent of Christ, he took upon himself powers that belong only to God.
The pagans kept no Sabbath as such. Sunday was to them a kind of holiday, dedicated to the worship of the sun. As the pagans accepted Christianity, the Catholic Church followed the practice it has always followed; namely, leaving the people to their usual customs, but placing upon them a religious stamp. The first day of the week, which the heathen had dedicated to the sun, the church now dedicated to the Son. The keeping of the seventh-day Sabbath was solemn and holy; the keeping of the first day of the week was made popular by the permission to hold games and festivities after the morning worship was concluded. Gradually the first day of the week became the popular holiday, and the number who adhered to the Sabbath of the Lord found themselves in the small minority. God, of course, knew of this long before it was done or even contemplated. Through His prophet He unmasked the attempt hundreds of years before it was made. In the seventh chapter of the book of Daniel the story is recorded. There a power is spoken of, the Papacy that shall “think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time.” Verse 25.
An American Translation, published by the University of Chicago, reads: “He shall plan to change the sacred seasons and the law.” The Septuagint reads: “Shall think to change times and law.” Young’s says: “It hopes to change season and law.” The American Revised: “He shall think to change the times and the law.” Other translations say the same. The word “law” in the Hebrew is in the singular, and doubtless has reference to the law of God, as there would be no point whatever in saying that a certain power should change a human law-a thing that is done continually.
If we are correct in this interpretation, we are face to face with a power that would attempt to do that which neither Christ nor the apostles had in mind to do-change the law of God as written and engraved on a tablet of stone with God’s own finger. This is a most presumptuous undertaking, and would be attempted only by a power that should presume to speak for and act in the stead of Christ. That it must be a religious or an anti-religious power is clear from the fact that only such a power would be interested in the law of God.
There is probably no more convincing testimony regarding the guilt of a person than his own confession. In obtaining such a confession, there must, of course, be no compulsion. If a person who has the free use of his faculties is accused of a crime, and of his own free will confesses his part in it, there is every reason to accept his testimony as true. If we apply this principle to the question under discussion; if we ask the accused point-blank whether he is guilty or not guilty as charged. If he should answer that he is guilty, and should not only willingly furnish the information, but be proud of what he has done and publish his confession far and near, we would be inclined to accept such confession, especially if it agreed with known facts.
We are therefore going to ask the accused, the Roman Catholic Church, some very definite questions, or better still, we are going to let the church ask its own questions and answer them.
A Frank Admission
“Question. Which is the Sabbath day?
“Answer. Saturday is the Sabbath day.
“Question. Why do we observe Sunday instead of Saturday?
“Answer. We observe Sunday instead of Saturday because, the Catholic Church, in the Council of Laodicea (AD 336), transferred the solemnity from Saturday to Sunday.”-REV. PETER GE1ERMANN, CSSR, The Convert’s Catechism of Catholic Doctrine, p. 50, 2d edition, 1910.
“Question. Has the [Catholic] church power to make any alterations in the commandments of God?
“Answer. Instead of the seventh day, and other festivals appointed by the old law, the church has prescribed the Sundays and the holy days to be set apart for God’s worship; and these we are now obliged to keep in consequence of God’s commandment, instead of the ancient Sabbath.”-RT. REV. DOCTOR CHALLONER, Catholic Christian Instructed, p. 211.
“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 of the living God, the pillar and. ground of the truth’ (1 Tim. 3:15); whereas, you who are Protestants have really no authority for it whatever; for there is no authority for it in the Bible, and you will allow that there can be authority for it anywhere else. Both you and we do, in fact, follow tradition in this matter; but we follow it, believing it to be a part of God’s Word, and the church to be its divinely appointed guardian and interpreter; you follow it, denouncing it all the time as a fallible and treacherous guide, which often makes the commandment of God of none effect.” Clifton Tracts, Vol. IV, article, “A Question for All Bible Christians,” p. 15.
“Question. Have you any other way of proving that the church has power to institute festivals of precept?
“Answer. 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.”-REV. STEPHEN KEENAN, A Doctrinal Catechism; approved by the Most Reverend john Hughes, DD, Archbishop of New York, p. 174. New York: Edward Dunigan and Brother, 1851.
“Question. By whom was it [the Sabbath] changed?
“Answer. By the governors of the church, the apostles, who also kept it; for St. John was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day (which was Sunday). Apocalypse 1:10.
“Question. How prove you that the church hath power to command feasts and holy days?
“Answer. By the very act of changing the Sabbath into Sunday, which Protestants allow of; and therefore they fondly contradict themselves, by keeping Sunday’ strictly, and breaking most other feasts commanded by the same church.
“Question. How prove you that?
“Answer. Because by keeping Sunday, they acknowledge the church’s power to ordain feasts, and to command them under sin; and by not keeping the rest [of the feasts] by her commanded, they again deny, in fact, the same power.”-REV. HENRY TUBERVILLE, DD, An Abridgement of the Christian Doctrine (R.C.), p. 58. New York: Edward Dunigan and Brothers, approved 1833.
How will a Protestant answer this challenge?
“You will tell me that Saturday was the Jewish Sabbath, but that the Christian Sabbath has been changed to Sunday. Changed! but by whom? Who has authority to change an express commandment of Almighty God? When God has spoken and said, Thou shall keep holy the seventh day, who shall dare to say, Nay, thou may work and do all manner of worldly business on the seventh day; but thou shall keep holy the first day in its stead? This is a most important question, which I know not how you can answer.
“You are a Protestant, and you profess to go by the Bible and the Bible only; and yet in so important a matter as the observance of one day in seven as a holy day, you go against the plain letter of the Bible, and put another day in the place of that which the Bible has commanded. The command to keep holy the seventh day is one of the Ten Commandments; you believe that the other nine are still binding; who gave you authority to tamper wit the fourth? If you are consistent with your own principles, if you really follow the Bible and the Bible only, you ought to be able to produce some portion of the New Testament in which this fourth commandment is expressly altered.” - Library of Christian Doctrine: Why Don’t You Keep Holy the Sabbath Day? pages 3, 4. London: Burns and Oates (R.C.).
And here is another challenge:
“The Catholic Church for over one thousand years before the existence of a Protestant, by virtue of her divine mission, changed the day from Saturday to Sunday. We say by virtue of her divine mission, because He who called Himself the ‘Lord of the Sabbath,’ endowed her with His own power to teach, ‘He that hears you, hears Me. Commanded all who believe in Him to hear her, under penalty of being placed with the ‘heathen and publican’; and promised to be with her to the end of the world. She holds her charter as teacher from Him-a charter as infallible as perpetual. The Protestant world at its birth (in the Reformation of the sixteenth century) found the Christian Sabbath too strongly entrenched to run counter to its existence; it was therefore placed under the necessity of acquiescing in the arrangement, thus implying the church’s right to change the day, for over three hundred years. The Christian Sabbath is therefore to this day the acknowledged offspring of the Catholic Church as spouse of the Holy Ghost, without a word of remonstrance from the Protestant world.” -The Catholic Mirror (Baltimore, Md.), Sept. 23, 1893.
We believe that these statements from recognized Catholic sources are sufficient to prove the point made, that the Roman Catholic Church not only admits that it has changed the law of God with reference to the Sabbath commandment, but is proud of the fact, and claims that it has done so by divine authority. The church rather chides the Protestants for keeping the first day of the week, for which there is no Scriptural authority, but only the edict of the Catholic Church, when the Protestants claim to accept the Bible and the Bible only. It would appear to us that the Catholic Church is a great deal more consistent than are the Protestant churches in this matter. For how can Protestants stand for the Bible and the Bible only and yet accept and obey the voice of the Catholic Church instead of that of Christ? In doing so, Protestants certainly “fondly contradict themselves, by keeping Sunday strictly, and breaking most other feasts commanded by the same church.”
At this point it might be interesting to hear what Protestant denominations have to say on this question. Do they recognize the truthfulness of the presentation made by the Roman Catholic Church? Do they know of the claims it makes, and do they acknowledge them?
As long ago as the Protestant Reformation, this was incorporated in the Augsburg Confession:
“They [the Catholics] allege to have changed the Sabbath into Sunday, the Lord’s day, contrary to the Ten Commandments as it appears; neither is there any example more boasted of than the changing of the Sabbath day. Great, say they, is the power and authority of the church, since it dispensed with one of the ten commandments.” - Augsburg Confession, Art. XXVIII.
The following quotations from writers belonging to different Protestant denominations all present the same testimony:
“It is quite clear that, however rigidly, or devoutly 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 obligation to observe Sunday.... There is not a single sentence in the New Testament to suggest that we incur any penalty by violating the supposed sanctity of Sunday.”-R. W. DALE, MA (Congregationalist), The Ten Commandments, pp. 106, 107. London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1871.
“There is no word, no hint, in the New Testament about abstaining from work on Sunday. Into the rest of Sunday no divine law enters. The observance of Ash Wednesday or Lent stands on exactly the same footing as the observance of Sunday.”-CANON EYTON (Church of England), The Ten Commandments, pp. 62-65. London: Triffiner & Co., 1894.
“And where are we told in Scripture 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. The reason why we keep the first day of- the week holy instead of the seventh is for the same reason that we observe many other things, not because the Bible, but because the church, has enjoined it.”-REV. ISAAC WILLIAMS, BD (Church of England), Plain Sermons on the Catechism, Vol. 1, pp. 334-336. London: Rivingtons, 1882-
“It is impossible to extort such a sense from the words of the commandment; seeing that the reason for which the commandment itself was originally given, namely, as a memorial of God’s having rested from the creation of the world, cannot be transferred from the seventh day to the first. Nor can any new motive be substituted in its place, whether the resurrection of our Lord or any other, without the sanction of a divine commandment.” – “The Christian Doctrine,” book 2, chap. 7; in Prose Works of John Milton, Vol. V, p. 70. London: Henry G. Bohn, 1853.
“For if we under the gospel are to regulate the time of our public worship by the prescriptions of the Ten Commandments, it will surely be far safer to observe the seventh day, according to the express commandment of God, that on the authority of mere human conjecture to adopt the first.”-JOHN MILTON, A Treatise on Christian Doctrine; cited in The Literature of the Sabbath Question, Robert Cox, Vol. 11, p. 54. Edinburgh: Maclachlan and Stewart, 1865.
This presents the matter before us in its true light. We do not see how, in face of this testimony, anyone can fail to see the lasting obligation of the seventh-day Sabbath.
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