Theology question

I’m posting this basically “General” question in “Great Debates” as a possible pre-emptive measure - I could see where it could mushroom out of control, however my intent is simply to gain an understanding - not to start another holy war.

People of Jewish faith believe that the Sabbath is on Saturday. Most Christians and Catholics believe that the Sabbath is on Sunday. Since they share the same Ten Commandments, how is it that one of these belief systems is not in violation of the 4th Commandment: Remember the Sabbath and keep it Holy?

Something I’ve wondered about since a kid…

I tried searching the archives, but was left wanting…
Other internet searches explained why Christians and Catholics changed from Saturday to Sunday as their day of worship, but don’t really explain why it’s not in direct violation of the Commandments.

In the Judeo-Christian tradition, there is no disagreement. The Sabbath day is the seventh day, or Saturday. Jews observe the Sabbath due to the Commandment to do so, if you will forgive the over-simplification. Christians worship on what we consider to be “The Lord’s Day,” or Sunday, because that is the day The Lord rose from the dead according to Scripture. Christ replaced the Ten Commandments with two: “Love God” and “Love one another.” Therefore, the obligation for Christians to observe the Sabbath is technically nullified.

Anyone who calls Sunday the Sabbath is confused about their terminology.

Hope this helps.

Weeeeelll . . . kinda, Knead.

“Sabbath” originated from the Hebrew word for “to rest.” If Sunday is observed as a day of rest, per the OT, then one can still be said to be keeping the Sabbath. Nowhere in the OT does it say “Saturday’s the day.” Sunday is indeed the Sabbath for most (though not all) Christians, and is a perfectly acceptable term.

Knead knocked it over the fence.

Couple of quick notes: General attitude of theologians is not that Jesus abrogated the (O.T.) Law, Ten Commandments and all, but that He refocused people on their purpose. If, to set a horrible example that I know is not valid up for strawman purposes, C.M.Keller, observant Jew, sees a preschool child playing in the busy street just beyond the bounds of where he may lawfully go on the Sabbath, and declines to rescue the child in order to keep the Law, He is, on Christian principles, falling short of the true meaning of the Law in a vain attempt at literal adherence. (In point of fact, I’m confident that CMK would in fact save the child and have a quick bit of Rabbinic halacha to show that it was, in fact, in keeping with the Law.)

Finally, “the Lord’s Day” does in fact commemorate the Resurrection, but is also the day on which God created the heaven and the earth and the day on which the Holy Spirit descended on the faithful, two ancillary support points.

Damn! And I just changed my sig line! Thanks, Polycarp! I’ll ponder over lunch whether to commemorate this occasion with another sig line change. :slight_smile:

Doing a little banging around on the web on the subject, I’m finding some very emphatic views on Sabbath as a specific day of the week versus Sabbath as a day of rest and worship (not too surprisingly, much of the vehemence comes from those of the Seventh Day Adventist school of thought).

So, I guess my question is simply this:

With all the calendar changes over the last few thousand years, not to mention the changes in names of the days, why are some people so dead convinced that the “seventh day” must be the day we now call Saturday?

Oh, and for that matter, if Sabbath == Saturday, why then is the word Sabbath acceptable English for the Christian holy day?

Sorry, but I don’t see how that answers my question. Assuming that the Jews are right and the Sabbath is Saturday (and since the Christians were in agreement up until around 321 AD), is still seems to me that Christians have decided to ignore the 4th commandment.

Also, it looks suspiciously serendipitous that the change from Saturday to Sunday seems to coincide with the declaration (in 321 AD) of Roman Emperor Constantine that Sunday was to be the official day of rest (a Pagan tradition). Given that Christians were the victims of extreme persecution from both the Jews and the Romans, it leads one to wonder if the Christians were not motivated to find a “good” reason to change from Saturday to Sunday…

Since, this particular law made it into God’s “top ten”, one has to assume that it holds special significance and since I don’t see anyone pointing to where Jesus specifically abrogated that law (in fact, Jesus probably observed the Sabbath on Saturday), it still seems to be a clear violation.

As I understand it the Law says only that we must keep the Sabbath day holy. The idea is just that out of every seven days, you have a day of rest. You can’t possibly expect to keep accurately to which day is which. How often do you forget which day it is? And this is going back to the creation, for goodness’ sake! That’s plenty much difficult to track, probably even more so if you’re a creationist.

Seven days. One holy day.

It may be arguable for fun, but I have a feeling all enlightened Christians and Jews, and all True Scotsmen, are in the same camp as Jesus on this one: Who Cares?

I agree with ACoverOfNoise here. The Sabbath is Saturday and the Lords day is Sunday. This was acknowledged by the Roman Catholic Church at the time of the switch from its day of rest from Saturday to Sunday.

I mean really… if we want to believe that man can change Gods laws to fit himself then why do we need God?

Where is the word “Saturday” mentioned in the Bible?

Why do you think that Christians “were in agreement up until around 321”?

The practice of worship on Sunday can be found in the Acts of the Apostles. St. Ignatius of Antioch (died between 98 and 117) already writes of following no longer following the practice of the Sabbath, but honoring, instead, the Lord’s Day (“on which Our Life rose again”). Christianity separated from Judaism pretty thoroughly by the end of the first century and this is one more sign of it.

You can argue that Christians are failing to heed God’s word. The response, (with which you do not have to agree, but which I will not argue), is that the original Sabbath was simply a place-marker, the seventh day of the week. It symbolically ties in to the day on which God rested after creation and to the day of rest that God instructed the Israelites to observe while in the desert. With the celebration of the Resurrection, Christians chose to move their day of rest from the last to the first day of the week. If that upsets God, I’m sure we’ll hear about it.

I am aware of no pagan tradition of resting on any particular non-feast day, although I may be misinterpreting what you wrote.

Roman persecutions were extremely severe on several occasions, but there was no persistent, ongoing persecution that lasted from 60 to 313 without interruption.
Jewish persecution could not be characterized as extreme, was rather sporadic, and tended to take on the nature of a feud, rather than a persecution. The Jews had no political power to persecute Christians after 70, and probably pursued no active persecution for quite a few years prior to that.

Well, I do know that in the Mithraic religion, Sunday was a day of worship. (see related thread) Yep, that was the pagan tradition you were referring to. I’m not sure about resting, but I can check it out.

IANAC(hristian), but my understanding was that Christians don’t need to follow the Ten Commandments. They were Mosaic law, and Jesus updated the law with the New Testament (and no Ten Commandments in that one).

That depends on the Christian you talk to. Whether Jesus has “fulfilled” the Law, “completed” the Law, “superseded” the Law, “brought a new Law”, or some other action is a point that different Christians make in different ways–and of which they have radically different interpretations.

What about that other stuff, like not committing adultery? Is that nullified as well?


If you love your wife, you won’t cheat on her.

For that matter…

If you love your fellow man, you won’t steal from him.

If you love your fellow man, you won’t murder him.

If you love your fellow man, you won’t tell lies about him.

And so on. The Ten Commandments aren’t obliterated so much as put in context. The Old Testament can read like “Do this.” “Why?” “Because if you don’t I’ll smite you.” Not that there’s no sign of love, but Christianity picked up a common thread running behind the important commandments and made it the big show, creating a flexible religion that answered big theology questions that aren’t always easy to find in the OT.*

The relation to the Sabbath being, if you love God, you’ll pay attention to him. It doesn’t have to be a Saturday, but you need to stop and pay your respects at some point.

*Judaism has dealt with these same hurdles; I don’t mean to imply that Christianity is a more ‘evolved’ religion. Judaism solves these same questions, if my data is reliable, in a few ways: rabbinical commentaries; stressing the importance of studying the Talmud so that you have to get in past who begat who and look for the bigger themes; and saying, “Yeah, sometimes God is cryptic. Deal.”

I think tomndebb pretty much nailed it… just a couple of things.

The First Ecumenical Council, around 325, weas held to dismiss Arianism and were immediately followed by the Councils of Nicaea.
Bishops from Asia, Syria, Palestine, Egypt, Greece, and Thrace were invited to Nicaea by Constantine to hammer out
the details and to write the cannons and creeds for their beliefs. The Greek had been predominately Arionistic, in that, they
believed God had created Jesus and therefore Jesus was not eternal by definition.

That belief system was unacceptable to the majority of bishops outside of Greece and was closer to the Jewish belief system. This was squashed out by the Ecumenical Council and those that refused to dismiss Arianism were exiled.
The current trend in belief was that God the father, the son, and the holy ghost all form one being, which is the main belief among Christians today. This sets the stage for the Nicaean Council where this recognizable ditty was written.
BTW any bishop that didnt sign the Nicaean creeds and cannons was exiled as well.

I almost want to chuckle when I think of bishops gathered to discuss if God created Jesus and how that would affect their belief systems.

Nice summary, Yue Han.

Unfortunately, loving your fellow man is a lot harder than just not killing him, as a quick perusal of the Pit will demonstrate quite clearly. (Don’t be offended, Pit fans – I had the rantees in mind when I said that, not the ranters… ;))

I set 'em up, Yue Han knocks 'em down. :slight_smile:

themoon, the best thing you can do at this point is check out Matthew, chapter 5. (There are any number of on-line Bibles, I just linked to one I like.)

And Katisha couldn’t be more right. I prevent myself from killing people on an almost daily basis. Actually loving them … well … let’s just agree that all have fallen short.

I think this probably characterizes what Jesus had in mind…


If you love God, you will REMEMBER the Sabbath and KEEP it holy because this one of the few things he asked you to do.

God didn’t say, “Choose a day that suits you and make that a day of rest and holy reflection”. He was very specific about which day it was and maybe he had a good reason for picking Saturday over Sunday.

Nevertheless, no matter how you look at it, it was mere mortals that decided that Sunday would be the standard day of rest for Christians… this does not seem like a decision for mere mortals, even with good intentions.

There seems to be some argument that Jesus introduced some sense of relaxation with regard to the Ten Commandments, but a quick search on the web turned up this quote from his Sermon on the mount:

Sounds pretty straightforward to me…
Actually, it sounds pretty much like prophesy…

Doesn’t the Koran also contain the 10 Commandments? And if so, I think Friday is the Muslim holy day; so now we’ve got a choice of three.

Muslim: Friday
Jewish: Saturday
Christian: Sunday

In terms of the good old seven-day week–that is hardly a universal. Prior to, or in contrast to western religious influences, weeks (for lack of a better word) ranged in length from 5 to 10 to 13 to upwards of 70 days. Seven days equals a week is convention now, but wasn’t always this way. As a week has little or no real world significance (in the same way a day or a year does), it stands to reason that length and divisions may vary depending on the group doing the defining. In the end, the seven day week with Saturday/Sunday off is a pretty recent invention, yet one that has seen near worldwide acceptance.

(For a far more thorough discussion on the variable length of the week and the notion of weekends, see Waiting for the Weekend, by Witold Rybczynski published by Viking Press in 1991.)