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Questions On Doctrine


The Sabbath and the Moral Law



The Christian world generally holds (1) that the moral law is eternal and has not been abolished; (2) that the Sabbath principle, anchored to the creation week, especially in the distinction between the six-and-one days—marking them off by divine authority for different purposes—is likewise permanent and eternal; (3) that the specific seventh-day time element is but ceremonial and typical, and therefore temporary—being fulfilled and abrogated by Christ at the cross; and (4) that there is a clear continuity between the Sabbath of Old Testament times, based on creation, and the Lord's day of the New Testament, based on redemption, with the redemption rest greater than the creation rest. What is the position of Seventh-day Adventists on these four points?


Seventh-day Adventists are in full accord with point 1—that the moral law is eternal in its very nature and has not been abrogated. We believe that these eternal moral principles are unchanged and unchangeable. We further believe that these basic principles are found in the Decalogue—Ten Commandments, or the moral law.


We believe that the moral law in its original form, though the wording has not been recorded, finds comprehensive expression in the principles set forth by Jesus—loving God supremely and loving our fellow men equally with ourselves. These primary principles are the foundation of God's throne, and the eternal law of His beneficent moral government.

We also believe that it is this moral law—the Decalogue—that reveals sin: "By the law is the knowledge of sin" (Rom. 3:20); "Where no law is, there is no transgression" (Rom. 4:15); "I had not known sin, but by the law" (Rom. 7:7); and "Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law" (1 John 3:4).

It was the outbreak of sin in Eden, the transgression of the divine law, that made the plan of redemption necessary. Because of man's sin the Saviour died a vicarious, atoning death on Calvary to save lost man. Hence, the moral law and the gospel are inseparably related. One reveals the sin; the other, the Redeemer who saves from sin.

We are also in agreement with most of point 2—that the Sabbath springs from creation week, and is likewise permanent and eternal. The "six-and-one day" expression, from which we dissent, will be discussed later. But on the basis of the fundamental Protestant principle that the Bible is the Christian's sole rule of faith and practice, we believe that the contention of point 3—that while the moral nature of the Sabbath as an institution is permanent, its specific time element was only ceremonial and temporary, and thus lapsed at the cross—is inconsistent as a corollary argument. 


We likewise reject the implication that while the moral aspect of the Sabbath is firmly anchored in creation, its time element is not.*

Nowhere in the teachings of Jesus do we find any declaration to the effect that this time element, or seventh-day-ness (if we may so term it), of the Sabbath command has been changed. We have not found any questioning of the validity of this seventh-day-ness on the part of Jesus, or any relaxation of the obligation of its seventh-day-ness, but rather an implicit recognition of its continuance.

1. Points of Agreement and Difference.—Adventists believe that the seventh-day Sabbath—which was "made for man" (Mark 2:27)—was given to "man" (i.e., mankind) in Eden, long before the Hebrew people came into being. And it was observed throughout the patriarchal age, long before it was placed in the special custody of ancient Israel, following their exodus from Egypt.**
*Some think of the Sabbath as an institution related only to the Hebrews. Those who press this point claim that the Deuteronomy version of the Decalogue emphasizes that the Sabbath was given exclusively to the Hebrews, because they had been delivered from slavery.

**The silence of the latter part of Genesis regarding the Sabbath is understandable when one remembers that acquaintance of the patriarchs with God's commandments was taken for granted. The author of the historical record in Genesis did not deem it necessary to mention it in his sweeping survey of the centuries. But Abraham kept the commandments of God (Gen. 26:5)—the Hebrew word here used for "commandments" being the same as that used for the Decalogue in Deuteronomy 5:10, 29. Kalisch mentions this as the law written in the heart of man, and the Pulpit Commentary states that the word means "that which is graven on tables." Abraham acknowledged and obeyed the moral law of God. If so, would that not include the Sabbath? The Companion Bible (Gen. 26:5) says Abraham had a charge, to be observed; commandments, to be obeyed; statutes (decrees), to be acknowledged; and laws "instruction," the Torah), to be followed.

And during their wilderness experience, God tested His ancient people as to whether they would walk in the way of His commandments (Ex. 16:4). The test came on the subject of the Sabbath. And comparison of Exodus 16:1 with Exodus 19:1 shows that this occurred several weeks before the promulgation of the Decalogue. They must, therefore, have known not only of God's law but also of specific commandments embraced therein, as evidenced by this reference to the Sabbath.


The principles of the moral law were, we believe, known to man before the Fall.* and were later committed to written form in the Decalogue, amid the awesome scenes of Sinai—spoken and written by God (Exodus 19 and 20; 32:15, 16). And we believe that when Israel became God's special covenant people, pledging to honor Him in keeping His commandments, the Decalogue was given as the basis of that covenant.

We dissent, however, from the contention in point 4 of "continuity"—transfer of the observance of the seventh-day Sabbath to the festival of the resurrection, on the first day of the week. We believe the basis of the two observances to be totally different—in the first, it was to commemorate the rest of the Creator; in the second, to commemorate the resurrection of our Lord.

We dissent from the suggestion that the seventh-day Sabbath of the Old Testament had only a ceremonial significance, or was in any way "fulfilled and abrogated by Christ," or that the seventh-day-ness is an "abrogated" aspect or "temporary" feature of the abiding Sabbath of the fourth commandment. We dissent from the change of the original wording—the "six days" and "the seventh day," of the fourth commandment of Exodus 20—to the unbiblical expression "six-and-one days," or a mere proportion of time, for to us such a change of phrasing involves a definite change of intent to which we cannot agree. 

We dissent from the proposition that the Lord Jesus Christ transferred the observance from the last day of the week to the first in order to point beyond the original "creation rest" to a greater "redemption rest."
*At his creation Adam was untainted by sin. God "made man upright" (Eccl. 7:29). Man was created "in the image of God" (Gen. 1:27). That being so, the moral law would be written in his heart.


We find no scriptural evidence to sustain such a claim. The Biblical and historical reasons for our views follow.

2. Memorial in Character, Not Ceremonial.—All Seventh-day Adventists, as creationists, believe in the Genesis record of a fiat creation (Gen. 1:1 to 2: 2), with the seventh day as God's recorded and attested rest day, and the Sabbath given as the perpetual memorial of that creation, blessed and sanctified (or set apart) for man. The Sabbath had its inception before sin entered the world (Genesis 2 and 3), and it was given to commemorate a completed creation. If sin had not entered, all would have kept the original Sabbath day.

God did not make man in order that he might keep the Sabbath (Mark 2:27). But having made man, He gave him the Sabbath as a continual reminder and memorial of the mighty power of the Creator. And while the principle of the Sabbath includes both physical and spiritual rest, a memorial cannot be spiritualized away, and does not expire with the lapse of time.

Inasmuch, then, as the Sabbath was instituted at creation, before the entrance of sin, it was an inseparable part of God's original plan and provision for man. It did not, therefore, have any ceremonial significance by foreshadowing something to come. On the contrary, it has ever had a commemorative significance, for it points back to something already done—the creation of the world and the human race.

Our observance of the seventh-day Sabbath is an expression of our belief that Christ created the world. And it is also a sign of our love, loyalty, and devotion to


Him as our Maker and King. The further fact that the Lord of the Sabbath so loved us that He became man and sacrificed His life to save us from sin's ruin, makes His Sabbath all the more precious and glorious as the Lord's day.

We believe that at His incarnation Jesus Christ came to reveal the perfect character and will and love of God, and to vindicate and fulfill the righteousness of His moral law and government. In this way Christ's perfect obedience and righteousness is first imputed (through justification) and then imparted (through sanctification) to all who accept His atoning death in their stead. Provision was thus made for His perfect Sabbathkeeping to cover all our Sabbathbreaking—as well as the infraction of the nine other precepts of the Ten Commandments.

3. Moral and Ceremonial  Sabbath is Basically Different.—We believe that a sharp and fundamental distinction has been made between the weekly seventh day Sabbath of the Lord, and the seven annual ceremonial or typical sabbaths of the tabernacle ritual (Passover, Pentecost, Day of Atonement, et cetera). These annual sabbaths each fell on a specified day of the month, not on a specific day of the week, and only occasionally coincided with the seventh-day Sabbath.

We believe that these annual typical sabbaths, with their special sacrificial offerings, all pointed forward to the one all-encompassing and all-sufficient offering of Jesus Christ as "the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world" (John 1:29). The Scripture states that He is our Passover (1 Cor. 5:7). His death occurred on the designated day of the Passover (Nisan 14),


which in that year fell on a Friday. His resurrection took place on the day of the wave sheaf, or first fruits (Nisan 16), when, as the "firstfruits" of them that slept (1 Cor. 15:20, 23), He arose triumphant over death. These tremendous events assure us of our acceptance in Him, and of our resurrection at the last day. These typical annual sabbaths ended forever at the cross, when all types met their complete antitype. But this in no way affected the seventh-day Sabbath, which was never a type, and consequently was not abrogated.

4. Sabbath Not Abrogated by Christ. —The Sabbath of the fourth commandment had no ceremonial or typical significance that could be either "fulfilled" or "abrogated" in Christ. It was not instituted as part of the tabernacle ritual at Sinai, and did not point forward to the atoning sacrifice of Christ on Calvary. Instead, the Sabbath remained the established memorial of the original creation, hence pointed back to the work of the Creator. And this, by its very nature, could be neither fulfilled nor abrogated as long as His work of creation stands.

The Jewish traditions which encrusted Sabbath observance were indeed swept away by Christ—not because He fulfilled them by His antitypical, sacrificial death, but because they were simply the unauthorized "traditions of men" that had never had any validity. So it was the many added rules and rabbinical regulations pertaining to the observance of the Sabbath—the encumbrances—that were swept away by the teachings of Christ. But this involved only the appendages, not the Sabbath itself.


Isaiah prophesied that Christ would magnify the law and make it honorable (Isa. 42:21). This He did. And He magnified the Sabbath of that law, by showing it to be not a day of burden and restriction but a day of rest and release from the burdens of sin and its consequences. He observed the Sabbath throughout His life and ministry, but exemplified what true Sabbathkeeping means—showing that it was lawful to do good on the Sabbath, and on occasion healing the sick on the Sabbath.

There were, moreover, the civil laws of Israel, given when the nation was under a theocracy. Some of these were related to the Sabbath, and entailed severe civil penalties for desecration of the seventh day, such as capital punishment for presumptuously picking up sticks on the Sabbath (Ex. 31:14; 35:2, 3; Num. 15: 32-36). But these ended forever with the cessation of the theocracy of Israel, and were in no way transferred from, or continued beyond, that period.

Seventh-day Adventists hold the Sabbath to be for all the world and for all time. We firmly believe that there is nothing of a ceremonial or typical nature in the Sabbath of the fourth commandment.

5. "Seventh-day-ness" and "Sabbath-ness" of the Sabbath.—Two characteristics stand out conspicuously in connection with the original Sabbath institution, which, for convenience, may be termed its seventh-day-ness and its sabbath-ness—that is, the specific time set apart, and the nature of the observance, rest from labor. As before noted, the entire ceremonial system was instituted after sin entered the world, with the specific purpose of pointing sinners forward to the coming Saviour.


It was designed to inculcate faith in His power to save them from their sins. But nowhere do the Scriptures state, or even imply, that the time element of the original Sabbath command was ceremonial. On the contrary, they provide explicit evidence that its seventh-day-ness could not have been ceremonial, for to be ceremonial and typical the time element would have to be instituted after the entrance of sin, and the consequent need of a Saviour.

The Sabbath command gives as the very reason for its existence that "in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it" (Ex. 20:11). The seventh-day-ness of the Sabbath is therefore no less surely anchored to creation than the moral quality that may be called its Sabbath-ness. And our recognition of the one should be just as great as that of the other. To this undeniable fact testifies the seven-day week, which comes down to us from the time of creation (see Gen. 2:1-3).

God instituted the Sabbath on the seventh day of the first week of time. Thus both aspects of the day—its seventh-day-ness no less than its sabbath-ness—are inseparably linked with creation. Except for some explicit statement of Scripture in evidence to the contrary, to affirm the one and deny the other is clearly inconsistent with the major premises we have surveyed, especially in view of the Protestant position on the supreme authority of Scripture.

There was nothing ceremonial, or typical, about the several acts of creation, or about God's resting from His work of creation, or about the fact that He chose to do


so on the seventh day of creation week. Thus the Scriptures nowhere so much as imply that the seventh-day-ness of the Sabbath ever pointed forward to the cross. And only those things that pointed forward to the cross were abolished at or by the cross. The seventh-day-ness of the Sabbath was not one of those.

6. The Logic of the Case.—The seventh-day-ness of the Sabbath is frequently referred to by some as a "temporary" feature, for Old Testament times and the Hebrews only. But in view of the foregoing evidence, it is proper to ask, If it is claimed that God's resting on the seventh day implied a "temporary" feature, then would not the same argument apply to the fact that He rested at all? What is there more "temporary" about the fact that God chose to rest on the seventh day of creation week than about the fact that He rested at all?

Another common contention pertaining to this seventh-day-ness of the Sabbath is that to observe the Sabbath on the seventh day of the week involves the observer in legalism. But we ask, In precisely what way, and on what scriptural authority, can regard for the seventh-day-ness of the Sabbath be declared to involve us automatically in legalism? Was God legalistic because He chose to rest on the seventh day of creation week, rather than upon the first day of the week, at its outset; or interrupting His work of creation—to rest upon some other day part way through the week? And if it was not legalistic for God so to rest, why then is it legalistic for us to do so under His bidding? And if it is legalistic for us to rest on the seventh day of the week, why is it not as legalistic to rest on the first day, or any other day, of the week?


And where does the Bible either explicitly affirm, or even imply, that the sabbath-ness (or sheer rest) of the Sabbath is not legalistic, but that the seventh-day-ness rest on the particular seventh day, is legalistic? Again, did God institute a ceremonial, or typical, side of the Sabbath by choosing to rest on the specific seventh day? Then by what process of logic can it be maintained that it is ceremonial for us to observe the Sabbath on the seventh day of the week, but not for God to do so?

Moreover, it is sometimes affirmed that the essential purpose (the sabbath-ness) of the Sabbath was in harmony with the preservation and maintenance of life. Does that imply that there is a necessary conflict between the seventh-day-ness of the Sabbath and the preservation and maintenance of life? But in what way was the seventh-day-ness of the Sabbath any more in conflict with the preservation and maintenance of life than its sabbath-ness? The sabbath-ness of the Sabbath restricts activity on a specified day, while the seventh-day-ness of the Sabbath simply specifies on which day this is to take place.

It is also said that the sabbath-ness of the Sabbath existed for the good of man, implying that its seventh-day-ness operates against his well-being. But in what way does the seventh-day-ness of the Sabbath militate against the good of man, any more than does Sunday, the first day of the week? Did God's emphasis on the seventh-day-ness of the world's first Sabbath militate against the good of the Creator?


To sum up: We protest against the fallacious reasoning that would make it legalistic to observe the seventh day of the week but not legalistic to observe the first day of the week. Such lines of reasoning as these that have been referred to in the foregoing discussion are inconsistent with sound logic. To be consistent, it would seem that one should either follow through, to their logical conclusions, the accepted major premises of points 1 and 2, by acknowledging the divinely instituted seventh-day-ness, as well as the sabbath-ness, of the Sabbath, or else retreat from the declared major premises and find another basis for retention of the moral quality of the Sabbath. Otherwise, such a course would seem to lead either to the position that the Ten Commandments have been abolished, or to the Roman Catholic position that the church has the authority and power to alter the Decalogue.

7. "Six-and-One-Day" Postulate Untenable.—We dissent from the position implied in point 2 of the question at the beginning of this discussion, that moral significance attaches to the distinction of the "six-and-one-day" proportion principle—or merely one unspecified day in seven as the Sabbath—but not to the keeping of the day designated in Scripture. We believe such a contention to be subjective reasoning, unsupported by the wording of the fourth commandment, or by any other command or sanction of Scripture. We adhere to the Protestant principle of the Bible and the Bible only, and ask for scriptural evidence for such a change from the express wording and obvious intent of Holy Writ.

And the implication that the "six-and-one-day" principle—or simply one day in seven—is admittedly inseparable from the moral essence of the Sabbath,


while specification of the seventh day as such reduces it to a ceremonial relationship, is, we believe, neither Biblically sound nor logically true. There is nothing whatsoever in the specific seventh-day Sabbath that has ceremonial significance in the life and work of Christ, and consequently affords any basis for being so considered. We take the fourth commandment without emendations.

8. Introduction of Sunday Observance.—Turning now to the historical side, we dissent, first of all, from the thesis that the Sabbath has actually been transferred from the seventh to the first day of the week, called the "Lord's day" by many. The earliest authentic instance, in early church writings, of the first day of the week being called "Lord's day" was by Clement of Alexandria, near the close of the second century (see Miscellanies v. 14). And the first ecclesiastical writer known definitely to teach that the observance of the Sabbath was transferred by Christ to Sunday was Eusebius of Caesarea (died c. 349), who made the allegation in his Commentary on the Psalms, on Psalm 92 (Psalm 91 in K.J.V), written in the second quarter of the fourth century. (See Frank H. Yost, The Early Christian Sabbath, 1947, ch. 5.)

Sunday observance as a church festival commemorating Christ's resurrection—but as supplementary to, and not in lieu of, the Sabbath—was introduced at Rome about the middle of the second century. The custom spread gradually from that time onward. Although the Christians in Rome generally fasted instead of celebrating communion on Sabbath days, Ambrose, bishop of Milan (375-397), refused to follow this


practice in his diocese (Ambrose De Elia et Jejunio 10; Paulinus Life of St. Ambrose 38; Augustine Epistle 36. 14 to Casulanus; Epistle 54. 2 to Januarius).

Augustine, bishop of Hippo (died 430), stated that while the church of Rome fasted on the seventh day of each week in his time, the practice was not generally followed elsewhere in Italy, making special mention of Ambrose's refusal at Milan. He added that the vast majority of the Christian churches throughout the world, particularly in the East, had too much respect for the Sabbath to do that. He likewise stated that while some churches in North Africa followed Rome's example in fasting on Sabbath days, others under his care did not. (Augustine Epistle 36. 14 to Casulanus; Epistle 54. 2 to Januarius; and Epistle 82 to Jerome.)

Church historian Socrates (Ecclesiastical History v. 22), writing about A.D. 430, left the record:

Almost all Churches throughout the world celebrate the sacred mysteries on the sabbath [seventh day] of every week, yet the Christians of Alexandria and at Rome, on account of some ancient tradition, refuse to do this.

Socrates also wrote that the Arians similarly held their meetings on both Sabbath and Sunday (ibid. vi. 8). And fifth-century church historian Sozomen (Ecclesiastical History vii. 19), confirmed Socrates' statement, declaring:

The people of Constantinople, and of several other cities, assemble together on the sabbath, as well as on the next day; which custom is never observed at Rome, or Alexandria.

After the enactment of Constantine's first civil Sunday law, in 321, enforcing "the venerable day of the sun" by rest from labor-designed to sustain and enforce


already existing ecclesiastical legislation regarding Sunday observance—the Sunday festival became increasingly popular and widespread with the passing of the centuries. It was buttressed thereafter by increasing ecclesiastical and civil legislation. However, at the time of the great schism between the churches of the East and West, in 1054, one of the principal issues of controversy was Rome's practice of still observing the Sabbath day by fasting. The Eastern churches, even at this late date, still regarded the Sabbath too highly to do that, although Sundaykeeping was then almost universal. (Cardinal Humbert, legate of Pope Leo IX to the Greeks, Adversus Graecorum Calumnias [Against the Calumnies of the Greeks], in Migne's Patrologiae Latina, vol. 143, cols. 936, 937; see also Gibbon, Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, ch. 60.)

Thus the eclipse of the Sabbath by Sunday in general practice took place slowly, but with much controversy and even bloodshed, as the history of the Celtic church attests, according to Lange.* It required centuries for Sunday to come to be regarded as the Sabbath.** And to this day in Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Polish, and a number of other languages, the seventh day of the week is still called by some transliteration of the old name "Sabbath."
*The Sabbath was observed by the Celtic church as late as the eleventh century. (Andrew Lange, A History of Scotland, 1909, vol. 1, p. 96; see also William F. Skene, Celtic Scotland, 1877, vol. 2, p. 349.)

**Seventeenth-century Edward Brerewood, of Gresham College, London (A Learned Treatise of the Sabbath, 1630, p. 77), left the record:
"The ancient Sabbath did remain and was observed by the Christians of the East Church, above three hundred years after our Saviour's death."
This is supported by Sir William Domville (The Sabbath: or an Examination of Six Texts, 1849, vol. 1, p. 291), writing two centuries later:
"Centuries of the Christian era passed away before the Sunday was observed by the Christian Church as a Sabbath."
And historian Lyman Coleman, of Lafayette College (Ancient Christianity Exemplified, 1852, ch. 26, sec. 2), concurs with these and many other witnesses:
"Down even to the fifth century the observance of the Jewish Sabbath was continued in the Christian church, but with a rigour and solemnity gradually diminishing."


9. Prophesied Change of Sabbath.—We, as Adventists, believe there has been a wholly unauthorized, unwarranted, and presumptuous change in the Sabbath by the Catholic, or great Roman, apostasy, as prophesied by Daniel (recorded in Daniel 7, especially verses 24 and 25).* The unblushing frankness of Rome's claim of authority and power to change even precepts of the "Ten Commandments of God" is seen in Joseph Faa di Bruno's Catholic Belief (1884), which has passed through many printings and various translations. On one page (page 311) are listed "The Ten Commandments of God," of Exodus 20, given in their shorter form, with the third (fourth) reading, "Remember that thou keep holy the Sabbath day." On the next page (page 312) appear "The Commandments of the Church," the first of which is this: "We are chiefly commanded by the Church—1. To keep the Sundays and Holydays of obligation."

That this specifically involves the substitution of Sunday for the Sabbath is seen from the explanation of the expression "Apostolical and Ecclesiastical Traditions" appearing in the authoritative "Creed of Pius IV," which was issued at the close of the Council of Trent:

That is, I admit as points of revealed truth what the Church declares the Apostles taught as such, whether clearly or not
*Even Philip Melanchthon, on the prophecy on Daniel 7:25, declared: "He [the papal Little Horn] changeth the tymes and lawes that any of the sixe worke dayes commanded of God will make them unholy and idle dayes when he lyste, or of their owne holy dayes abolished make worke dayes agen, or when they changed ye Saterday into Sondaye. . . . They have changed God's lawes and turned them into their owne traditions to be kept above God's precepts."—Exposition of Daniel the Prophete (1545), tr. by George Joye, p. 119.


clearly expressed or not even mentioned in the Written Word of God: as, for instance, . . . that Sunday instead of Saturday (called the Sabbath) is to be kept holy.—Ibid., p. 251.

Nothing could be plainer, or more bold.

While, as noted, the seventh-day Sabbath continued to be observed in certain areas for centuries after the cross, the festival of the resurrection came gradually to parallel and then later to overshadow it. And at the Synod of Laodicea, the predominating influence at the council anathematized those who continued to observe the seventh-day Sabbath and enjoined the observance of Sunday.* The Sabbath-Sunday canons of this Eastern council were incorporated into the canons of the General Council of Chalcedon in 451, and thus received legislative force for the entire church.

Then, in the next century, Justinian incorporated the canons of the first four general councils (including Chalcedon and Laodicea's Canon 29) into his famous Code (Corpus Juris Civilis), with their infraction now punishable by civil penalties. And this remained
*Canon 29, of the Council of Laodicea is quoted by Hefele (A History of the Councils of the Church, 1896, vol. 2, p. 316) as follows:
"Christians shall not Judaize and be idle on Saturday ["Sabbath," original], but shall work on that day; but the Lord's day they shall especially honour, and, as being Christians, shall, if possible, do no work on that day. If, however, they are found Judaizing, they shall be shut out from Christ." 

Back in the seventeenth century William Prynne of Britain (A Brief Polemicall Dissertation concerning the true time of the Inchoation and Determination of the Lord's Day-Sabbath, 1655, pp. 33, 44), affirmed this fact:
"The seventh-day Sabbath was . . . solemnized by Christ, the Apostles and Primitive Christians . . . till this Laodicean Council did in a manner quite abolish the observation of it." "The Council of Laodicea . . . first settled the observation of the Lord's-day."

Three centuries later Roman Catholic catechisms still maintain that this Council had been the turning point. Thus Peter Geiermann (The Convert's Catechism of Catholic Doctrine 1910, p. 50), whose treatise received the apostolic blessing of Pius X, January 2, 1910, gives this answer:
"Q. Which is the Sabbath day?
"A. Saturday is the Sabbath day.
"Q. Why do we observe Sunday instead of Saturday?
"A. We observe Sunday instead of Saturday because the Catholic Church, in the Council of Laodicea (A.D. 336), transferred the solemnity from Saturday to Sunday."

Some even place the date just before Nicea (325) ; others after Constantinople (381). Most older writers fixed on 364.


the dominant law of Europe all through the Middle Ages, until modification by the countries adopting Protestantism, where decrees of tolerance were enacted by their respective parliaments. Later this was superseded by the Code of Napoleon, after the French Revolution at the end of the eighteenth century.

We, as Seventh-day Adventists—and doubtless many in other Protestant communions—deny the validity of such a change of the Sabbath as claimed by Roman Catholics and repeatedly admitted by prominent Protestants. We believe that the seventh day continues as the changeless memorial of God's original creation; and further, that the regenerated believer in Christ who, ceasing from sin, enters into spiritual rest, can keep the Sabbath as the sign of his recreation. We therefore refuse to recognize, honor, and obey what we believe to be the papal substitute of God's unchangeable Sabbath. Taking the Bible as our sole rule of faith and practice, and unable to find Scripture warrant for such a change, we decline to follow what we believe to be the traditions and "commandments of men."

While Catholics claim responsibility for the change of the Sabbath, prominent Protestants—from Reformation times onward—admit that the change was not by scriptural authority or apostolic act, but by human churchly action. Thus:

The Augsburg Confession of 1530, Art. XXVIII, declares:

They [the Catholics] allege the change of the Sabbath into the Lord's day, contrary, as it seemeth, to the Decalogue; and they have no example more in their mouths than the change of the Sabbath. They will needs have the Church's power to be


very great, because it hath dispensed with a precept of the Decalogue.—Philip Schaff, The Creeds of Christendom, vol. 3, p. 64.

German church historian, Johann August Neander, in The History of the Christian Religion and Church, Roses' translation (1831), volume 1, page 186, asserts:

The festival of Sunday, like all other festivals, was always only a human ordinance, and it was far from the intentions of the apostles to establish a divine command in this respect, far from them, and from the early apostolic church, to transfer the laws of the Sabbath to Sunday.

English Congregationalist Robert W. Dale, in The Ten Commandments. (1891), page 100, says:

The Sabbath was founded on a specific Divine command. We can plead no such command for the obligation to observe Sunday.

Anglican Dr. Isaac Williams, in Plain Sermons on the Catechism (1882), volume 1, page 336, admits:

The reasons why we keep the first day of the week holy instead of the seventh is for the same reason that we observe many other things, not because the Bible, but because the church, has enjoined it.

American Congregationalist Lyman Abbott, in Christian Union, June 26, 1890, states:

The current notion that Christ and his Apostles authoritatively substituted the first day of the week for the seventh is absolutely without any authority in the New Testament.

British Anglican Dean F. W. Farrar, in The Voice From Sinai (1892), page 167, says:

The Christian Church made no formal, but a gradual and almost unconscious, transference of the one day to the other.

Anglican Canon Eyton, of Westminster, in The Ten Commandments (1894), page 62, adds:

There is no word, no hint, in the New Testament about abstaining from work on Sunday.


N. Summerbell, in History of the Christians, page 418, avers:

It [the Roman Catholic Church] has reversed the fourth commandment, doing away with the Sabbath of God's Word, and instituting Sunday as a holy day.

And Statesman William E. Gladstone, four times prime minister of Britain, in Later Gleanings, page 342, observes:

The seventh day of the week has been deposed from its title to obligatory religious observance, and its prerogative has been carried over to the first; under no direct precept of Scripture.

10. Sabbath Changed by "Authority" of Roman Church.—The Papacy's formal answer to Protestantism was given at the Council of Trent (1545-1563). It was here that her deliberate and final rejection, and anathema, of the Reformation teachings on the supremacy of the Bible, and other clear doctrines of the Word of God, took place. The real issue was the equality, or actual superiority, of tradition to the Scriptures as a rule of faith.

During the seventeenth session, Cardinal Casper del Fosso, archbishop of Reggio, on January 18, 1562, asserted that tradition is the outgrowth of continual churchly inspiration residing in the Catholic Church. He appealed to the long-established change of the Sabbath into Sunday as standing proof of the inspired authority of the Roman Church. He declared that the change had not been made by command of Christ, but by the authority of the Catholic Church, which change Protestants accept. His speech was the determining factor in the decision of the Council. And ever since Trent, the change of the Sabbath to Sunday has


been pointed to by Roman Catholics as the evidence of the church's power to change even the Decalogue. (See epitomizing Creed of Pius IV in Joseph Faa di Bruno, Catholic Belief, 1884, pp. 250-254; Henry Schroeder [tr.] Canons and Decrees of the Council of Trent, 1937.

11. Why We Observe the Sabbath.—We believe that Protestants are on perilous ground when they unwittingly follow the same subtle Sabbath argument advanced in the Council of Trent, as recorded in the Cathechism of the Council of Trent (Catechismus Romanus). In this it is held that while the Sabbath principle is moral and eternal, the specific time element is only ceremonial and temporary. And further, that as the seventh day constituted the temporary time emphasis for the Jews of Old Testament times, so the Catholic mother-church, in the plenitude of her delegated power, authority, and insight, and as the designated custodian and only infallible interpreter of tradition and truth, has transferred the solemnity from the seventh to the first day of the week. (Donovan, Catechism of the Council of Trent, 1867, pp. 340, 342; see also Labbe and Cossart, Sacrosancta Concilia; Fra Paolo Sarpi, Histoire du concille de Trente, vol. 2; H. J. Holtzmann, Canon and Tradition; T. A. Buckley, A History of the Council of Trent; et cetera.)

In making this effective, most Roman Catholic catechisms reduce the Sabbath commandment simply to read, "Remember that thou keep holy the Sabbath day" (e.g., Geiermann's The Convert's Catechism of Catholic Doctrine, p. 50; Butler's Catechism, p. 28; et cetera). And in various vernacular catechisms the Sabbath command


actually reads, "Remember to keep the festivals," or "feasts," instead of "Remember to keep holy the Sabbath."

The Roman Church upbraids and challenges the sincerity of Protestants who, professing to follow the Bible as their sole rule of faith and practice, in reality accept and follow the authority and example of Catholic tradition.*

On the contrary, we as Adventists believe that Jesus Christ Himself—who was the Creator of all things (John 1:3, 10; 1 Cor. 8:6) and the original maker of the Sabbath, and who is "the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever" (Heb. 13:8)—made no change in the Sabbath. And He authorized no change to be made by His followers. We therefore believe that until the Sabbath law is repealed by divine authority, and its change made known by definite Scripture mandate, we should solemnly "remember" and "keep" the unrepealed original seventh-day Sabbath of the Decalogue, which is explicitly on record.
*Thus French prelate Mgr. Louis de Segur (Plain Talk About the Protestantism of Today, 1868, p. 213, with imprimatur by Johannes Josephus). declares:
"It was the Catholic Church which, by the authority of Jesus Christ, has transferred this rest to the Sunday in remembrance of the resurrection of our Lord. Thus the observance of Sunday by the Protestants is an homage they pay, in spite of themselves, to the authority of the [Catholic] Church."

The Catholic Mirror, official organ of James Cardinal Gibbons (Sept. 23, 1893), in a series of four editorials, similarly asserted:
"The Catholic Church for over one thousand years before the existence of a Protestant, by virtue of her divine mission, changed the day from Saturday to Sunday."

"The Protestant world at its birth [the sixteenth century Reformation] found the Christian Sabbath too strongly intrenched to run counter to its existence; it was therefore laced under the necessity of acquiescing in the arrangement, thus implying the Church's right to change the day, for over three hundred years. The Christian Sabbath is therefore to this day the acknowledged offspring of the Catholic Church as spouse of the Holy Ghost, without a word of remonstrance from the Protestant world."

(See also James Cardinal Gibbons, The Faith of Our Fathers, 1893, p. 111; J. I. von Dollinger, The First Age of Christianity and the Church, vol. 2, pp. 206, 207.)


We believe, without any reservations, that the Sabbath  is the memorial of an immutable historical fact—a finished creation, and the Creator's rest on the specific seventh day at the close of creation week. We say it humbly, but we believe that nothing—no person, or group, or power on earth—can change the commemorative, historical fact that God rested on the seventh day of creation week and gave His rest day to mankind as the perpetual memorial-reminder of a finished work—never repealed, and never to be repealed.

And we believe, furthermore, that the Sabbath will ever be the eternal memorial of God's creative power and righteousness (Isa. 66:22, 23), and will remain the everlasting reminder of His justice and sovereign government, as well as of His wondrous plan of redemption and the recreation of man through the wonders of His grace.

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