Sabbath in Christianity is the inclusion or adoption in Christianity of a Sabbath day. Established within Judaism through Mosaic Law, Christians inherited a Sabbath practice that reflected two great precepts: the commandment to "remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy" and God's blessing of the seventh day (Saturday) as a day of rest in the Genesis creation narrative and declared as made for man by Jesus. The first of these provisions was associated in Judaism with the assembly of the people to worship in the Temple in Jerusalem or in synagogues.
The position now dominant in Western Christianity is that observance of the Lord's Day (Sunday) honours, supplanted or superseded the Sabbath commandment in that the former "celebrated the Christian community's deliverance from captivity to sin, Satan, and worldly passions, made possible by the resurrection on the first day of the week."Perspec]]rst day. By the 4th century, Catholics were officially observing the first day, Sunday, as their day of rest, not the seventh.
A Sabbatarian movement within Oriental Orthodoxy began in the 12th century in Ethiopia and gained momentum in the 13th, eventually establishing itself as the norm in that region. The modern Orthodox Tewahedo churches observe a two-day Sabbath, including both Saturday and Sunday. Influenced by Puritan ideas, the Presbyterian and Congregationalist, as well as Methodist and Baptist Churches, enshrined first-day Sabbatarian views in their confessions of faith, observing the Lord's Day as the Christian Sabbath.
Beginning about the 17th century, a few groups of Restorationist Christians took issue with some of the practices of the churches around them, sometimes also questioning the theology that had been so widely accepted throughout 16 centuries. Mostly Seventh-day Sabbatarians, they broke away from their former churches to form communities that followed Seventh-day Sabbath-based practices that differed from the rest of Christianity, often also adopting a more literal interpretation of law, either Christian or Mosaic.
The Hebrew Sabbath, the seventh day of the week, is often spoken of loosely as "Saturday" but in the Hebrew calendar a day begins at sunset and not at midnight. The Sabbath therefore coincides with what the Gregorian calendar identifies as Friday sunset to Saturday sunset. Similarly, the first day of the week ("Sunday") coincides with Gregorian Saturday sunset to Sunday sunset. The Sabbath continued to be observed on the seventh day in the early Christian church. To this day, the Sabbath continues to be observed in line with the Hebrew Sabbath timing in the church calendars in Eastern Orthodoxy and Oriental Orthodoxy.
On the other hand, the current canons of the Roman Catholic Church (Canon 202 §1) define a day as beginning at midnight.
Early Christians continued to pray and rest on the seventh day. By the 2nd century AD some Christians also observed Sunday, the day of the week on which Jesus had risen from the dead and on which the Holy Spirit had come to the apostles. Paul the Apostle and the Christians of Troas, for example, gathered on Sunday "to break bread". Soon some Christians were observing only Sunday and not the Sabbath. Patristic writings attest that by the second century, it had become commonplace to celebrate the Eucharist in a corporate day of worship on the first day. A Church Father, Eusebius, stated that for Christians, "the sabbath had been transferred to Sunday".
In his book From Sabbath to Sunday, Adventist theologian Samuele Bacchiocchi contended that the transition from the Saturday Sabbath to Sunday in the early Christian church was due to pagan and political factors, and the decline of standards for the Sabbath day.
While the Lord's Day observance of the Eucharist was established separately from the Jewish Sabbath, the centrality of the Eucharist itself made it the commonest early observance whenever Christians gathered for worship.
The issues about Hebrew practices that continued into the 2nd century tended to relate mostly to the Sabbath.
A common theme in criticism of Hebrew Sabbath rest was idleness, found not to be in the Christian spirit of rest.
Ignatius, cautioning against "Judaizing" in his letter to the Magnesians, contrasts the Jewish Sabbath practices with the Christian life which includes the Lord's Day: "Let us therefore no longer keep the Sabbath after the Jewish manner, and rejoice in days of idleness.... But let every one of you keep the Sabbath after a spiritual manner, rejoicing in meditation on the law, not in relaxation of the body, admiring the workmanship of God, and not eating things prepared the day before, nor using lukewarm drinks, and walking within a prescribed space, nor finding delight in dancing and plaudits which have no sense in them. And after the observance of the Sabbath, let every friend of Christ keep the Lord's [Day, Dominicam] as a festival, the resurrection-day, the queen and chief of all the days."
The 2nd and 3rd centuries solidified the early church's emphasis upon Sunday worship and its rejection of a Jewish (Mosaic Law-based) observation of the Sabbath and manner of rest.
Sunday was another work day in the Roman Empire.
While established only in civil law rather than religious principle, the Church welcomed the development as a means by which Christians could the more easily attend Sunday worship and observe Christian rest.
Augustine of Hippo followed the early patristic writers in spiritualizing the meaning of the Sabbath commandment, referring it to eschatological rest rather than observance of a literal day. Such writing, however, did serve to deepen the idea of Christian rest on Sunday, and its practice increased in prominence throughout the early Middle Ages.
Thomas Aquinas taught that the Decalogue is an expression of natural law which binds all men, and therefore the Sabbath commandment is a moral requirement along with the other nine. Thus in the west, Sunday rest became more closely associated with a Christian application of the Sabbath, a development towards the idea of a "Christian Sabbath" rather than a Hebrew one. While Sunday worship and Sunday rest combined powerfully to relate to Sabbath commandment precepts, the application of the commandment to Christian life was nevertheless a response within the law of liberty, not restricted to a single day but continuous, and not a displacement of the Sabbath in time.
Seventh-day Sabbath was observed at least sporadically by a minority of groups during the Middle Ages.
In the early church in Ireland, there is evidence that a sabbath-rest on Saturday may have been kept along with mass on Sunday as the 'Lord's day'.
An Eastern body of Christian Sabbath-keepers mentioned from the 8th century to the 12th is called Athenians ("touch-not") because they abstained from uncleanness and intoxicating drinks, called Athinginians in Neander: "This sect, which had its principal seat in the city of Armorion, in upper Phrygia, where many Jews resided, sprung out of a mixture of Judaism and Christianity.
Cardinal Hergenrother says that they stood in intimate relation with Emperor Michael II (AD 821-829), and testifies that they observed Sabbath. As late as the 11th century Cardinal Humbert still referred to the Nazarenes as a Sabbath-keeping Christian body existing at that time.
The Orthodox Tewahedo churches celebrate the Sabbath, a practice proselytised in the Oriental Orthodox church in Ethiopia in the 1300s by Ewostatewos (Ge'ez: ዮስጣቴዎስ, Ancient Greek: Ευστάθιος). In response to colonial pressure by missionaries of the Catholic Church in the 1500s, the emperor Saint Gelawdewos wrote his Confession, an apologia of traditional beliefs and practices including observation of the Sabbath and a theological defense of the Miaphysitism of Oriental Orthodoxy.
Protestant reformers, beginning in the 16th century, brought new interpretations of Christian law to the west.
Sabbatarianism arose and spread among both the continental and English Protestants during the 17th and 18th centuries. The Puritans of England and Scotland brought a new rigorism into the observance of the Christian Lord's Day, in reaction to the customary Sunday observance of the time, which they regarded as lax. They appealed to Sabbath ordinances with the idea that only the Bible can bind men's consciences in whether or how they will take a break from work, or to impose an obligation to meet at a particular time. Their influential reasoning spread to other denominations also, and it is primarily through their influence that "Sabbath" has become the colloquial equivalent of "Lord's Day" or "Sunday". Sunday Sabbatarianism is enshrined in its most mature expression, the Westminster Confession of Faith (1646), in the Calvinist theological tradition. Chapter 21, Of Religious Worship, and the Sabbath Day, sections 7-8 read:
The confession holds that not only is work forbidden in Sunday, but also "works, words, and thoughts" about "worldly employments and recreations."
Strict Sunday Sabbatarianism is sometimes called "Puritan Sabbath", which may be contrasted with "Continental Sabbath". The latter follows the reformed confessions of faith of Continental Europe such as the Heidelberg Catechism, which emphasize rest and worship on the Lord's Day, but do not explicitly forbid recreational activities. However, in practice, many continental Reformed Christians also abstain from recreation on the Sabbath, following the admonition by the Heidelberg Catechism's author Zacharaias Ursinus that "To keep holy the Sabbath, is not to spend the day in slothfulness and idleness".
Though first-day Sabbatarian practice declined in the 18th century, the First Great Awakening in the 19th century led to a greater concern for strict Sunday observance. The founding of the Day One Christian Ministries in 1831 was influenced by the teaching of Daniel Wilson.
Some Christian non-Sabbatarians advocate physical Sabbath rest on any chosen day of the week, and some advocate Sabbath as a symbolic metaphor for rest in Christ; the concept of "Lord's Day" is usually treated as synonymous with "Sabbath". This non-Sabbatarian interpretation usually states that Jesus's obedience and the New Covenant fulfilled the laws of Sabbath, the Ten Commandments, and the Law of Moses, which are thus considered not to be binding moral laws, and sometimes considered abolished or abrogated. While Sunday is often observed as the day of Christian assembly and worship, in accordance with church tradition, Sabbath commandments are dissociated from this practice.
Non-Sabbatarian Christians also cite 2 Cor.
Non-Sabbatarians who affirm that Sabbath-keeping remains for God's people (as in Heb.
Much of Western Christianity came to view Sunday as a transference of Sabbath observance to the first day, identifying Sunday with a first-day "Christian Sabbath". While first-day Sabbatarian practice declined during the 18th century, leaving few modern followers, its concern for stricter Sunday observances did have influence in the west, shaping the origin of the Christian Sabbath. The term no longer applies to a specific set of practices, but tends to be used to describe the general establishment of Sunday worship and rest observances within Christianity. It does not necessarily imply the displacement of the Sabbath itself, which is often recognized as remaining on Saturday. As such, the Christian Sabbath generally represents a reinterpretation of the meaning of the Sabbath in the light of Christian law, emphases of practice, and values.
In 1998 Pope John Paul II wrote an apostolic letter Dies Domini, "on keeping the Lord's day holy". He encourages Catholics to remember the importance of keeping Sunday holy, urging that it not lose its meaning by being blended with a frivolous "weekend" mentality.
Going beyond the traditional Catholic position and seeing to uphold the Lord's Day Act in French Quebec, the Catholic Sunday League was formed in 1923 to promote first-day sabbatarian restrictions in the province, especially against movie theaters.
In the Latin Church, Sunday is kept in commemoration of the resurrection of Jesus and celebrated with the Eucharist (Catholic Catechism 2177). It is also the day of leisure. The Lord's Day is considered both the first day and the 'eighth day' of the week, symbolizing both first creation and new creation (2174). Roman Catholics view the first day as a day for assembly for worship (2178, Heb. 10:25  ), but consider a day of rigorous rest not obligatory on Christians (Rom. 14:5 , Col. 2:16  ). Catholic recommendations to rest on Sunday do not hinder participation in "ordinary and innocent occupations". In the spirit of the Sabbath, Catholics ought to observe a day of rest from servile work, which also becomes "a day of protest against the servitude of work and the worship of money" (Catholic Catechism 2172). This day is often (traditionally) observed on Sunday in conjunction with the Lord's Day (Catholic Catechism 2176).
Cardinal James Gibbons affirmed Sunday observances as one of the examples of the Roman Catholic Church's sufficiency as guide:
Orthodox Sunday worship is not a direct Sabbath observance.
The Church affirms its authority to appoint the time of this feast (and all observances) as deriving from the authority given to the apostles and passed to the bishops through the laying-on of hands, for the sake of the governance of the Church on earth, and under the guidance of the Holy Spirit (John 20:22 , John 14:26 , Rom. 6:14-18 , Rom. 7:6  ). It does not treat Sunday worship as a transference of Sabbath worship, but identifies the Sabbath, still on Saturday, as a Biblical "type", a precursor, realized fully only after Christ's fulfillment of the Mosaic Law (Mat. 5:17-18  ). Thus, the Sabbath and the Mosaic Law both remain as a teacher, reminding Christians to worship in holiness, but now according to grace, in Christian observations and Sunday worship.
The grace received in baptism binds the Church to Christ, Who has given his people the freedom to seek him directly in relationship, not to pursue whatever suits one's fancy.
Orthodoxy recognizes no mandated time for rest, a day or any other span, but the Church leads the individual to holiness in different ways, and recognizes the need for economy and for rest. Activities such as sleep, relaxation, and recreation become a matter of balance and proper handling, and acceptance of God's mercy. St. Basil the Great expresses thanks for this in a prayer often said by Orthodox Christians in the morning, after rising: "You do we bless, O Most High God and Lord of mercy,... Who has given unto us sleep for rest from our infirmity, and for repose of our much-toiling flesh." In recognition of God's gifts, therefore, the Church welcomes and supports civil laws that provide a day away from labor, which then become opportunities for Christians to pray, rest, and engage in acts of mercy. In grace do Christians respond, remembering both the example of the Sabbath rest, and Christ's lordship (Mk. 2:21-28  ).
Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Catholic Churches distinguish between the "Sabbath" (Saturday) and the "Lord's Day" (Sunday), and both continue to play a special role for the faithful. Many parishes and monasteries will serve the Divine Liturgy on both Saturday morning and Sunday morning. The church never allows strict fasting on any Saturday (except Holy Saturday) or Sunday, and the fasting rules on those Saturdays and Sundays which fall during one of the fasting seasons (such as Great Lent, Apostles' Fast, etc.) are always relaxed to some degree. During Great Lent, when the celebration of the Liturgy is forbidden on weekdays, there is always Liturgy on Saturday as well as Sunday. The church also has a special cycle of Bible readings (Epistle and Gospel) for Saturdays and Sundays which is different from the cycle of readings allotted to weekdays. However, the Lord's Day, being a celebration of the Resurrection, is clearly given more emphasis. For instance, in the Russian Orthodox Church Sunday is always observed with an all-night vigil on Saturday night, and in all of the Eastern Churches it is amplified with special hymns which are chanted only on Sunday. If a feast day falls on a Sunday it is always combined with the hymns for Sunday (unless it is a Lord's Great Feast). Saturday is celebrated as a sort of afterfeast for the previous Sunday, on which several of the hymns from the previous Sunday are repeated.
In part, Eastern Christians continue to celebrate Saturday as Sabbath because of its role in the history of salvation: it was on a Saturday that Jesus "rested" in the cave tomb after the Passion. For this reason also, Saturday is a day for general commemoration of the departed, and special requiem hymns are often chanted on this day. Orthodox Christians make time to help the poor and needy as well on this day.
Lutheran founder Martin Luther stated "I wonder exceedingly how it came to be imputed to me that I should reject the law of Ten Commandments...Whosoever abrogates the law must of necessity abrogate sin also." The Lutheran Augsburg Confession, speaking of changes made by Roman Catholic pontiffs, states: "They refer to the Sabbath-day as having been changed into the Lord's Day, contrary to the Decalog, as it seems. Neither is there any example whereof they make more than concerning the changing of the Sabbath-day. Great, say they, is the power of the Church, since it has dispensed with one of the Ten Commandments!" Lutheran church historian Augustus Neander states "The festival of Sunday, like all other festivals, was always only a human ordinance".
Lutheran writer Marva Dawn keeps a whole day as Sabbath, advocating for rest during any weekly complete 24-hour period and favoring rest from Saturday sunset to Sunday sunset, but regarding corporate worship as "an essential part of God's Sabbath reclamation."
In 1831, Joseph Smith published a revelation commanding his related movement, the formative Church of Christ (Latter Day Saints), to go to the house of prayer, offer up their sacraments, rest from their labors, and pay their devotions on the Lord's day (D&C 59:9–12). Latter Day Saints believe this means performing no labor that would keep them from giving their full attention to spiritual matters (Ex. 20:10). LDS prophets have described this as meaning they should not shop, hunt, fish, attend sports events, or participate in similar activities on that day. Elder Spencer W. Kimball wrote in his The Miracle of Forgiveness that mere idle lounging on the Sabbath does not keep the day holy, and that it calls for constructive thoughts and acts.
Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are encouraged to prepare their meals with "singleness of heart" on the Sabbath and believe the day is only for righteous activities (Is. 58:13.) In most areas of the world, Latter-day Saints worship on Sunday.
First-day sabbatarian churches and organizations
The observance of the Lord's Day (Sunday) as the Christian Sabbath is known as first-day Sabbatarianism and this view was historically heralded by nonconformist denominations, such as Congregationalists, Presbyterians, Methodists, and Baptists, as well as many Episcopalians.The%20Democratic]]British%20Buckeyes%3A%20Th]] Sunday laws
The Savoy Declaration, upheld by Puritan Congregationalists, as well as the Second London Baptist Confession, upheld by Reformed Baptists, advanced first-day Sabbatarian views identical to those expressed in the Westminster Confession. General Baptists also advocate first-day Sabbatarian doctrine in their confessions of faith; for example, the Treatise on the Faith and Practice of the Free Will Baptists states:
Organizations that promote Sunday Sabbatarianism include Day One Christian Ministries (formerly known as the Lord's Day Observance Society) in the UK. With unwavering support by mainstream Christian denominations, Sabbatarian organizations were formed, such as the American Sabbath Union (also known as the Lord's Day Alliance) and the Sunday League of America, following the American Civil War, to preserve the importance of Sunday as the Christian Sabbath. Founded in 1888, the Lord's Day Alliance continues to "encourage all people to recognize and observe a day of Sabbath rest and to worship the risen Lord Jesus Christ, on the Lord’s Day, Sunday". The Board of Managers of the Lord's Day Alliance is composed of clergy and laity from Christian churches, including Baptist, Catholic, Episcopalian, Friends, Lutheran, Methodist, Non-Denominationalist, Orthodox, Presbyterian, and Reformed traditions. The Woman's Christian Temperance Union also supports Sabbatarian views and worked to reflect these in the public sphere. In Canada, the Lord's Day Alliance (renamed the People for Sunday Association of Canada) was founded there and it lobbied successfully to pass in 1906 the Lord's Day Act, which was not repealed until 1985. Throughout their history, Sabbatarian organizations, such as the Lord's Day Alliance, have mounted campaigns, with support in both Canada and Britain from labour unions with the goals of preventing secular and commercial interests from hampering freedom of worship and preventing them from exploiting workers.
The founder of the Moody Bible Institute declares, "Sabbath was binding in Eden, and it has been in force ever since. This fourth commandment begins with the word 'remember,' showing that the Sabbath already existed when God wrote the law on the tables of stone at Sinai. How can men claim that this one commandment has been done away with when they will admit that the other nine are still binding?"
Seventh-day sabbatarian churches
Seventh-day Protestants regard Sabbath as a day of rest for all mankind and not Israel alone, based on Jesus's statement, "the Sabbath was made for man" (i.e., purposed for humankind at the time of its creation, Mark 2:27 , cf.
Seventh-day Sabbatarians practice a strict seventh-day Sabbath observance, similar to Shabbat in Judaism. John Traske (1586–1636) and Thomas Brabourne first advocated seventh-day Sabbatarianism in England. Their ideas gave rise to the Seventh Day Baptists, formed in early 17th-century in England. Samuel and Tacy Hubbard began the first American congregation on Rhode Island in 1671.
The Seventh-day Adventist Church arose in the mid-19th century in America after Rachel Oakes, a Seventh Day Baptist, gave a tract about the Sabbath to an Adventist Millerite, who passed it on to Ellen G. White.
Fundamental Belief # 20 of the Seventh-day Adventist Church states:
By synecdoche the term "Sabbath" in the New Testament may also mean simply a "se'nnight" or seven-day week, namely, the interval between two Sabbaths. Jesus's parable of the Pharisee and the Publican describes the Pharisee as fasting "twice a week" (Greek dis tou sabbatou, literally, "twice of the Sabbath").
Seven annual Biblical festivals, called by the name miqra ("called assembly") in Hebrew and "High Sabbath" in English, serve as supplemental testimonies to Sabbath. These are recorded in the books of Exodus and Deuteronomy and do not necessarily occur on the Sabbath. They are observed by Jews and a minority of Christians. Three of them occur in spring: the first and seventh days of Passover, and Pentecost. Four occur in fall, in the seventh month, and are also called Shabbaton: the Feast of Trumpets; Yom Kippur, "Sabbath of Sabbaths"; and the first and eighth days of Tabernacles.
The year of Shmita (Hebrew שמיטה, literally, "release"), also called Sabbatical Year, is the seventh year of the seven-year agricultural cycle mandated by the Torah for the Land of Israel. During Shmita, the land is to be left to lie fallow. A second aspect of Shmita concerns debts and loans: when the year ends, personal debts are considered nullified and forgiven.
Jewish Shabbat is a weekly day of rest cognate to Christian Sabbath, observed from sundown on Friday until the appearance of three stars in the sky on Saturday night; it is also observed by a minority of Christians. Customarily, Shabbat is ushered in by lighting candles shortly before sunset, at halakhicallly calculated times that change from week to week and from place to place.
The new moon, occurring every 29 or 30 days, is an important separately sanctioned occasion in Judaism and some other faiths. It is not widely regarded as Sabbath, but some Hebrew Roots and Pentecostal churches, such as the native New Israelites of Peru and the Creation Seventh Day Adventist Church, do keep the day of the new moon as Sabbath or rest day, from evening to evening. New-moon services can last all day.
In South Africa, Christian Boers have celebrated December 16, the Day of the Vow (now called the Day of Reconciliation, as annual Sabbath (holy day of thanksgiving) since 1838, commemorating a famous Boer victory over the Zulu Kingdom.
Many early Christian writers from the 2nd century, such as pseudo-Barnabas, Irenaeus, Justin Martyr and Hippolytus of Rome followed rabbinic Judaism (the Mishna) in interpreting Sabbath not as a literal day of rest, but as a thousand-year reign of Jesus Christ, which would follow six millennia of world history.
Secular use of "Sabbath" for "rest day", while it usually refers to Sunday, is often stated in North America to refer to different purposes for the rest day than those of Christendom. In McGowan v. Maryland (1961), the Supreme Court of the United States held that contemporary Maryland blue laws (typically, Sunday rest laws) were intended to promote the secular values of "health, safety, recreation, and general well-being" through a common day of rest, and that this day coinciding with majority Christian Sabbath neither reduces its effectiveness for secular purposes nor prevents adherents of other religions from observing their own holy days.