SPECIAL: Was Sunday Always the Sabbath?


For millions of Christians around the world, Sunday is a day of rest, worship, and reflection. It is the day they observe the Sabbath, the day of rest and worship that God commanded in the Old Testament. But was the Sabbath always on Sunday? The answer might surprise you.

The origins of the Sabbath can be traced back to the creation story in the Book of Genesis. According to the story, God created the world in six days and rested on the seventh. This day of rest was blessed and sanctified by God, and it became a holy day for his people.

In the Jewish tradition, the Sabbath has always been observed on the seventh day of the week, which is Saturday. This tradition dates back to the time of Moses, when God gave the Ten Commandments to the Israelites. The fourth commandment states, "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God."

However, in the early Christian tradition, the Sabbath was not observed on Saturday, but on Sunday. This change was due to the belief that Jesus rose from the dead on the first day of the week, which was Sunday. The early Christians saw this as a new creation, and they began to observe Sunday as a day of rest and worship.

The shift from Saturday to Sunday as the Sabbath was gradual and not without controversy. Some Christians continued to observe the Sabbath on Saturday, while others observed both Saturday and Sunday. The Council of Laodicea, held in 364 AD, made Sunday the official day of rest and worship for Christians, and this tradition has been followed ever since.

The question of why Sunday became the official day of rest and worship for Christians is a complex one. Some scholars argue that it was simply a matter of convenience – Sunday was already a day of rest for many people, and it made sense to align the Christian Sabbath with this day. Others point to the cultural and political context of the time. In the Roman Empire, for example, Sunday was the day when the emperor and his court held public audiences, and it was a day when people gathered for various social and cultural activities. By observing the Sabbath on Sunday, Christians could participate in these activities while still honoring their faith.

Regardless of the reasons, the shift from Saturday to Sunday as the Sabbath had significant theological implications. For early Christians, Sunday was not simply a replacement for Saturday – it was a new day, a day when the power of sin and death had been overcome by the resurrection of Jesus. As one theologian put it, "Sunday is not the seventh day transplanted, it is the eighth day, the day beyond time and beyond death, the day of the new creation."

This understanding of Sunday as a new creation has had profound implications for Christian theology and practice. For many Christians, Sunday is not simply a day of rest and worship – it is a day of joy and celebration, a foretaste of the eternal Sabbath that is to come. This emphasis on the eschatological dimension of Sunday has led to a rich tradition of hymnody and liturgy that continues to this day.

Of course, not all Christians observe the Sabbath on Sunday. There are still some who observe the Sabbath on Saturday, and there are others who do not observe a specific day as the Sabbath. Some Christians see every day as a day of rest and worship, while others emphasize the importance of Sabbath rest without tying it to a specific day of the week.

The debate over which day to observe as the Sabbath may continue, but what is clear is that the Sabbath remains an important part of the religious tradition for millions of people around the world. Whether it is observed on Saturday or Sunday, the Sabbath is a day of rest,

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