Sabbath Short Explanation
Honoring the seventh day of the week is also no
longer binding. Saint Paul states that the legal demands of the Old
Covenant are canceled and explicitly mentions the Sabbath as one of
these. We read how Christ
“…having canceled the bond which stood against us with its legal
demands; this he set aside, nailing it to the cross… Therefore let no
one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink or with regard
to a festival or a new moon or a sabbath."
The festival, new moon, and Sabbaths are
references to the yearly, monthly, and weekly observances of the Mosaic
calendar. Therefore the whole Jewish festal calendar including the
Sabbath is no longer binding.
Saint Paul rebukes the Galatians for reverting
back to their Jewish customs and observance of feast days of the Mosaic
calendar as if they were still binding.
“…but now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God,
how can you turn back again to the weak and destitute elemental powers?
Do you want to be slaves to them all over again? You are
observing days, months, seasons, and years.
I am afraid on your account that perhaps I have labored for you in
This is a reference to
“days” – the Sabbath or 7th day, -
“months” -new moon or monthly feasts, - and
“years” - the festive or yearly feast days of the Mosaic calendar.
When giving the 10 commandments God wanted
Israel to remember how they as a nation were freed from slavery to the
“Observe the sabbath day, to keep it
holy, as the Lord your God commanded you. 13 Six days you shall
labor, and do all your work; 14 but the seventh day is a sabbath to
the Lord your God; in it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or
your daughter, or your manservant, or your maidservant, or your ox, or
your ass, or any of your cattle, or the sojourner who is within your
gates, that your manservant and your maidservant may rest as well as
you. 15 You shall remember that you were a
servant in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God brought you
out thence with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm;
therefore the Lord your God commanded you to
keep the sabbath day.”
There is nothing in the Sabbath commandment
about worshipping God, nothing at all.
We are just told to not to work and set aside
the seventh day. The instructions about worship are given in the
previous commandments. And we see more instructions and commands about
worship and the Sabbath in Leviticus 23 and Numbers 28.
The reference in the Sabbath commandment about
being set free from slavery in Egypt can only have a symbolic or
spiritual reference to the non-Jews who were never in Egypt nor were
they actual slaves. This prefigures as an Old Testament type of Jesus
Christ who would free us not from earthly slavery, but slavery to sin
and bondage to Satan. Jesus defeated Satan by His Life, Death and
Resurrection on Easter Sunday.
“Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in … regard to a
festival or a new moon or a sabbath.
These are only a shadow of what is to
come; but the substance belongs to Christ.”
And so, for Christians the Church in the time of
the Apostles moved the Holy Day of Worship to the Eighth Day, or the
First Day of the week, and every 7 days after that in honor of Jesus
Christ who Himself had established the pattern of choosing and setting
aside this special day.
In the Old Covenant the Jews honored God with
the Sabbath commemorating His creative act of making the world and how
they were set free from slavery to the Egyptians. But the Old Covenant
Sabbath was just a shadow. It was just a type of the fulfillment that
belongs to Jesus Christ. We honor Him on the day fallowing the Sabbath,
the eighth day, and every seven days after that because Jesus rose from
the dead on that day. He set us free from slavery not to the Egyptians,
but from slavery to sin. In Him we are a New Creation.
The Sabbath directed the Jews to rest. They
celebrated this in honor of being set free from slavery as they looked
forward to finding rest in the promised land. In the New Covenant we
celebrate the Lord’s Day, the First day of the week, as we look to
finding our eternal rest with Him in heaven.
CHRIST HONORS THE FIRST DAY OF THE WEEK
Jesus chose to defeat Satan and sin and death by His Life, Death,
and Resurrection on Easter Sunday when He rose from the dead. Jesus
also choose the first day of the week to appear to His Apostles. And
seven days later on the following Sunday He also chose to appear again
when Saint Thomas was present. John 20:19, 26. “Pentecost” comes from
the Greek word for “fiftieth.” Leviticus 23:15 gives the method for
computing the day of "Pentecost,” also called the Feast of Weeks. It
always falls on the first day of the week. And it was on this day that
God chose to inaugurate the Christian Church with the coming of the Holy
Spirit on Pentecost Sunday. Cf. Acts 2:1.
Christians gathered on the first day of the week because that was
the day of the Lord’s greatest triumph over Satan and death. Luke’s
Gospel proclaims that Christ rose on the first day of the week.
Luke 24:1, 2, 6, 7, 13,
“1. But at daybreak on the first day of the
week they took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb.
2. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb …
6. He is not here, but he has been raised.
Remember what he said …
7. that the Son of Man must be handed
over to sinners and be crucified, and rise on
the third day.” …
13. Now that very day two of them were
going to a village seven miles from Jerusalem called Emmaus …
19 … Jesus the Nazarene …
20. how our chief priests and rulers both handed him over to a sentence
of death and crucified him.
21. But we were hoping that he would be the one to redeem Israel; and
besides all this, it is now the third day
since this took place.”
In the Old Covenant the Jews communed with God by worshipping Him
on the Sabbath. This only prefigured and has given way to the greater
method of communing with God in the New Covenant by our reception of the
Eucharist, Holy Communion, on the first day of the week.
Also, in Luke’s Gospel, chapter 24, we read about Christ’s example
that we all should follow.
Luke 24:1, 13, 27, 30, 35.
(1) “But on the first day of the week…(13)
That very day two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, …(27)
And beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he (Jesus) interpreted to
them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself…(30) When he
was at table with them, he took the bread and
blessed, and broke it, and gave it to them…(35) Then they told
what had happened on the road, and how he was known to them in the
breaking of the bread.” RSV
Christ’s actions signify the two elements of the Lord’s Supper,
the celebration of which Catholics call the Mass. Jesus opens up the
Word of God to their hearts and then blesses and brakes bread with
them. And He does this with the disciples on the first day of the week.
“Sunday recalls the day of Christ’s Resurrection. It is Easter
which returns week by week, celebrating Christ’s victory over sin and
death, the fulfillment in him of the first creation and the dawn of
‘the new creation’ (cf. 2 Cor 5:17) …
[I]n commemorating the day of Christ's Resurrection not just once a year
but every Sunday, the Church seeks to indicate to every generation the
true fulcrum of history, to which the mystery of the world’s origin and
its final destiny lead …
As in every Eucharistic celebration, the Risen Lord is encountered in
the Sunday assembly at the twofold table of the word and of the Bread of
[Dies Domini, Apostolic letter of Pope John Paul II 1998]
St. John begins his first chapter with the words
“In the beginning…” as we see in Genesis 1:1.
We also see a new creation week. At Cana, the new Adam, Christ
(cf. 1 Cor. 15:45), changed the water into wine, symbolizing the change
from the Old Covenant to the New Covenant. St. John tells us that there
were seven days from “In the Beginning” to the beginning of Christ’s
work here at Cana.
These seven days correspond to the seven days of creation in
John 1: 1, 29, 35, 43.
“In the beginning…(29)
The next day…(35)
The next day… (43)
The next day…” this brings us to
the fourth day. The next reference to time is found in
“On the third day there was a marriage at Cana…”
But the third day from the fourth day is
the seventh day.
The “third day,” the day He Rose from the dead,
is our new seventh day.
Thus the third day and the seventh day are the same day.
In the New Covenant of Jesus Christ we have a new seventh day, but it is
also the third day - the day He rose from the dead, Luke 24:
46. The third day was also the day that the child Jesus was found
teaching His Word in the temple. We also find a close connection
between the third and seventh day in Numbers 19:12 “…he shall cleanse
himself with the water on the third day and on the seventh day, and so
be clean…” Saint John makes these parallels with the book of Genesis,
including the new seven days, so that we might see that
we are a new creation in Christ. Along with the New Covenant and the
new creation we have a new seventh day.
This day replaces the Sabbath for the day especially consecrated
to God by the community’s worship. Christians celebrated their worship
service in each others homes.
“And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship,
to the breaking of bread and the
prayers… breaking bread in their homes…"
We can see in the New Testament the beginning of this substitution
of the first day of the week for the seventh day that the Jews had
“On the first day of the week, when we
were gathered together to break bread,
Paul talked with them, intending to depart on the morrow; and he
prolonged his speech until midnight."
Here we see the two basic elements of Sunday worship which have
been followed by the Church to this day: 1) the breaking of bread,
which designates the celebration of the Lord’s Supper (Catholics call it
the Mass); and 2) the sermon.
That the Christians came together on the first
day of the week is also found in Saint Paul’s writings.
1 Corinthians 16:2
“On the first day of every week, each
of you is to put something aside and store it up, as he may prosper, so
that contributions need not be made when I come.”
Saint Paul thought that the most opportune time
to collect funds for the poor was when they gathered for their
celebration of the Lord’s Supper - the Mass.
Saint Luke must have had a special purpose for mentioning that
they “gathered” on the “first” day of the week in Acts 20:7. This is
evident because no where else in Acts, with one exception, does he list
the date or the day of the week that this or that momentous missionary
journey began, or this or that significant event happened. This implies
that Luke was intending to convey the special significance that the
"first" day of the week had come to represent.
Saint Paul who says in 1 Corinthians 11:1 “Be imitators of me,
as I am of Christ,” gives us an example to follow in Acts 20:7 when
he celebrates the Eucharist on the first day of the week.
The book of Revelations a blueprint for the Sacred Liturgy of the
Christian community’s weekly worship. There is the reading of the Word
of God (chapters 2 -5), and the partaking of the wedding banquet of the
Lamb of God, our Passover Sacrifice (chapter 19) and this takes place
on the Lord’s Day.
“I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a
loud voice like a trumpet…” RSV
The reference to the “Lord’s day” was always a reference to the
first day of the week when Jesus rose from the dead, appeared to the
Apostles, and instituted His Church on Pentecost Sunday. EVERY example
of the use of this term, “the Lord’s Day,” is always a reference to the
first day of the week. Examine the way the term is used in the early
The book of Revelation was written by Saint John. For an
explanation of the “Lord’s Day” see the quote listed below by Saint
Ignatius, the bishop of Antioch, who was also a disciple of Saint John.
Saint Basil : Letter
93 AD 372
“It Is Good And Beneficial To Communicate Every Day, And To Partake
Of The Holy Body And Blood Of Christ.
For He Distinctly Says, ‘He That Eateth My Flesh And Drinketh My Blood
Hath Eternal Life.’ And Who Doubts That To Share Frequently In Life, Is
The Same Thing As To Have Manifold Life. I, Indeed, Communicate Four
Times A Week, On The Lord's Day, On Wednesday,
On Friday, And On The Sabbath, And On The Other Days If There Is
A Commemoration Of Any Saint”
(To The Patrician Coesaria, Concerning Communion.)
The Didascalia AD 225
“The Apostles Further Appointed: On The
First Day Of The Week Let There Be
Service, And The Reading Of The Holy
Scriptures, And The Oblation,
Because On The First Day Of The Week Our Lord
Rose From The Place Of The Dead, And On The First Day Of The Week
He Arose Upon The World, And On The First Day Of The Week He Ascended Up
To Heaven, And On The First Day Of The
Week He Will Appear At Last With The Angels Of Heaven”
Tertullian : An Answer To The
Jews AD 206
“It Follows, Accordingly, That, In So Far As The Abolition Of Carnal
Circumcision And Of The Old Law Is Demonstrated As Having Been
Consummated At Its Specific Times, So Also The Observance Of The
Sabbath Is Demonstrated To Have Been Temporary…
He Predicts Through Isaiah: ‘And There
Shall Be,’ He Says, ‘Month After Month, And Day After Day, And Sabbath
After Sabbath; And All Flesh Shall Come To Adore In Jerusalem, Saith The
Lord;’ Which We Understand To Have Been Fulfilled In The Times Of
Christ, When ‘All Flesh’--That Is, Every Nation—‘Came To Adore In
Jerusalem’ God The Father, Through Jesus Christ His Son, As Was
Predicted Through The Prophet…But The Jews Are Sure To Say, That Ever
Since This Precept Was Given Through Moses, The Observance Has Been
Binding. Manifest Accordingly It Is, That The Precept Was Not Eternal
Nor Spiritual, But Temporary, Which Would One Day Cease…”
(Chap. 4. Of The Observance Of The
Justin Martyr : The First
Apology AD 155
“…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, When The Reader Has Ceased, The President
Verbally Instructs, And Exhorts To The Imitation Of These Good Things.
Then We All Rise Together And Pray, And, As We Before Said, When Our
Prayer Is Ended, Bread And Wine And Water Are Brought, And The President
In Like Manner Offers Prayers And Thanksgivings, According To His
Ability, And The People Assent, Saying Amen; And There Is A Distribution
To Each, And A Participation Of That Over Which Thanks Have Been Given
(Eucharistic Elements)... And They Who Are Well To Do, And Willing, Give
What Each Thinks Fit; And What Is Collected Is Deposited With The
President, Who Succours The Orphans And Widows And Those Who, Through
Sickness Or Any Other Cause, Are In Want, … And In A Word Takes Care Of
All Who Are In Need. 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. For He Was Crucified On The Day Before That
Of Saturn (Saturday); 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
(Chap. 67 Weekly Worship Of The
The Epistle Of Ignatius To The
Magnesians AD 107
“Be Not Deceived With Strange Doctrines, Nor
With Old Fables, Which Are Unprofitable. For If We Still Live According
To The Jewish Law, We Acknowledge That We Have Not Received Grace…
If, Therefore, Those Who Were Brought Up In The Ancient Order Of
Things Have Come To The Possession Of A New Hope,
No Longer Observing The Sabbath, But
Living In The Observance Of The Lord's Day,
On Which Also Our Life Has Sprung Up Again By Him And By His Death…”
(Chap. 8:1 - 9:2 Caution Against False
The Didache (Teaching Of The Twelve
Apostles) AD 70
“But every Lord’s day gather yourselves
together, and break bread, and give
thanksgiving after having confessed your transgressions, that your
sacrifice may be pure. But let no one who is at odds with his fellow
come together with you, until they be reconciled, that your sacrifice
may not be profaned. For this is that which was spoken by the Lord: ‘In
every place and time offer to me a pure sacrifice; for I am a great
King, says the Lord, and my name is wonderful among the nations.’ ”
(The Lord’s Teaching Through The Twelve Apostles To The Nations
Chapter 14:1 - 5. Christian Assembly On The Lord’s Day)
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