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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 

Colossians 2:14-16 
“…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. 

Galatians 4:9-11 
“…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 vain."   NAB

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 Egyptians.

Deuteronomy 5:12-15
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.

Colossians 2:16-17
“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.



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, 19-21
“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 Life.”
[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 Genesis. 

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  John 2:1  “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.

Acts 2:42-46 
“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 honored.  

Acts 20:7 
“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.    

Revelation 1:10 
“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 church below.

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”  
(Chapter   2)


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 Sabbath.)


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 Consideration.”
(Chap. 67    Weekly Worship Of The Christians)

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 Doctrines)

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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