Breaking the Sabbath was a capital crime, Exodus Ch.35:2-3 punishable by death.
I recommend you watch my video (link below) — Did Jesus break the Sabbath? For more information on the subject.
The Jewish Sabbath involves many Laws from the Talmud and not just the TaNaKh (Old Testament). See video, for the Laws of carrying for example; the Sabbath nowadays for instance even has it’s own song, L’choh Dohi (Sabbath song) is about the Sabbath as Queen.
Here’s the interesting thing, the Sabbath was not original to the Hebrews. Every ancient culture except the Phoenicians kept the Sabbath. Either based around the Lunar cycle or based around the seven day cycle. But only the Hebrews (now Jews) claim a special revelation on Mount Sinai regarding the Sabbath.
Sabbath in other ancient cultures:
“With the other elements of Babylonian culture the institution of the Sabbath had made its way to the West. But at Sinai it was given a new and special application. Not only was it to be observed each seventh day of the week, irrespective of the beginning of the month, it became also a sign and mark of the covenant between Israel and its national God. In the book of Exodus, it is true, the reason given for keeping it is that Yahveh had rested on the seventh day from His work of creation—a reason which will hardly be accepted by the geologist—but in Deuteronomy (v. 15) it is more fittingly brought into direct connection with the deliverance from Egypt : ‘ Remember that thou wast a servant in the land of Egypt, and that the Lord thy God brought thee out thence through a mighty hand and by a stretched out arm : therefore the Lord thy God commanded thee to keep the Sabbath day.”
Sayce, A. (2004). The Early History of the Hebrews. 1st ed. [Whitefish, Mont.]: Kessinger Publishing, p.139.
The Babylonians celebrated the Shabattum as noted in the Amarna Letters which pre-dated the Mosaic Law given at Sinai. But then the scripture indicates that the Sabbath was given as an example to us in Genesis because God rested on the Sabbath. If we can figure out when Genesis was penned that would solve all the problems, but we can’t. From all accounts Genesis was penned in the seventh-century B.C. Therefore we are to conclude that these traditions were passed down orally in many cultures and written much later.
I will never understand why people squirm at anything Babylonian, after all according to the scriptures Nimrod, Noah’s great-grandson built Babylon. And because Noah lived for 950 years he was very much alive and kicking when Nimrod was born. From my estimation Noah and Nimrod shared this planet for approximately 200 years.
My point is this — that if they had any contact whatsoever Nimrod would’ve learnt some Biblical traditions. I often wonder if Nimrod is painted as a evil ruler/dictator simply because he is a descendant of Ham/Canaan/Cush. And that ancient literature conjures up some strife between Nimrod and Abraham. Although, nobody is certain who exactly Nimrod is historically. The Babylonians also kept excellent records and there is no mention of a Nimrod in the King’s List.
The identity of Nimrod varies from culture to culture, some say he was Ninurta, others Sargon the Great, still others Tukulti-Ninurta I or the Egyptian monarch Amenophis III. (Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Dictionary, p.897). Personally I believe he was The Great Sargon (Nimrud) who acknowledged his god Marduk as discovered in the fragments of broken prisms in Assur.
Well, that’s my spat on demonising individuals like Nimrod because of folk-law.
The Early Church Fathers on the Sabbath:
What does the term Early Church Fathers mean?
The term Apostolic (Early) Fathers refers to the first and second century disciples of Jesus Christ who were the direct followers of the original Disciples. Some of them like Barnabus and Clement are even mentioned in the New Testament as a traveling companion and successors of Paul and Peter (Acts 14:14 & Phil 4:3).
They were first called Apostolic (Early) Fathers in 1672 by French Scholar J.B. Cotelier (patre’s eevi apostolici), Fathers of The Apostolic Period. Their writings were both from the Old Testament and the New Testament and some of their writings date back to 50AD. Their writings contained everyday practical matters rather than theological doctrines. How to worship, how to assemble, concerns for Judaizers, persecution, the return of Jesus and false religions.
Even though these early Fathers established our New Testament Canon, they themselves found they were excluded from the Canon in 367 AD by Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria.
Reading the Apostolic Fathers: An Introduction Clayton N.Jefford with Kenneth J. Harder and Louis D. Amezaga, JR.
Justin Martyr on Sabbath.
“150AD JUSTIN: Moreover, all those righteous men already mentioned [after mentioning Adam. Abel, Enoch, Lot, Noah, Melchizedek, and Abraham], though they kept no Sabbaths, were pleasing to God; and after them Abraham with all his descendants until Moses… And you [fleshly Jews] were commanded to keep Sabbaths, that you might retain the memorial of God. For His word makes this announcement, saying, “That you may know that I am God who redeemed you.” (Dialogue With Trypho the Jew, 150-165 AD, Ante-Nicene Fathers , vol. 1, page 204)”
“150AD JUSTIN: There is no other thing for which you blame us, my friends, is there than this? That we do not live according to the Law, nor, are we circumcised in the flesh as your forefathers, nor do we observe the Sabbath as you do. (Dialogue with Trypho 10:1. In verse 3 the Jew Trypho acknowledges that Christians ‘do not keep the Sabbath.’)”
“150AD JUSTIN: We are always together with one another. And for all the things with which we are supplied we bless the Maker of all through his Son Jesus Christ and through his Holy Spirit. And on the day called Sunday there is a gathering together in the same place of all who live in a city or a rural district. (There follows an account of a Christian worship service, which is quoted in VII.2.) We all make our assembly in common on the day of the Sun, since it is the first day, on which God changed the darkness and matter and made the world, and Jesus Christ our Savior arose from the dead on the same day. For they crucified him on the day before Saturn’s day, and on the day after (which is the day of the Sun the appeared to his apostles and taught his disciples these things. (Apology, 1, 67:1-3, 7; First Apology, 145 AD, Ante-Nicene Fathers , Vol. 1, pg. 186)”
“Tertullian, that ” on the day of the Lord’s resurrection Christians should defer their businesses lest they give any place to the devil.” “One hundred and twenty-one years later, Constantine,”” the shrewd statesman, to please his numerous Christian subjects, gave legal sanction and protection to their Sacred Day, in terms that would give no offense to his pagan subjects, by his famous edict for Sunday rest.”
Ignatius the Bishop of Antioch who was a disciple of Polycarp, who was a disciple of the Apostle John, lived around 37-110 A.D. He wrote in his Epistle.
“Be not deceived with strange doctrines, nor with old fables which are unprofitable. For if we continue to live according to Jewish Law, we acknowledge we have NOT received Grace. For even the most Holy prophets lived according to Jesus Christ. For this cause we are persecuted also, being inspired by this Grace, fully to convince the unbelievers there is One God, who hath manifested himself by Jesus Christ his Son. Who is his eternal world, not coming forth from silence, who in all things was well pleasing to him who sent him.
If therefore they come to the newness of hope, no longer observing Sabbaths, keeping the Lord’s Day in whom also our life is sprung up by Him and through His death.” (A Translation of The Epistles of Clement Of Rome, Polycarp And Ignatius, And of The First Apology Of Justin Martyr,p.68)
“Ignatius, ” Epistle to the Magnesians,” ch. g, and Council of Laodicea, can, 2g, 49 and loi, A.D. 361. See Bingham’s *’ Christian Antiquities,” vol. ii., b. 20, ch. 3.”—-4. A. Hodge, D.D., in “The Day Changed:’ The Schaff-Her-zog Cj’clopaedia says : ” The Jewish Christians ceased to observe the Sabbath [that is, Saturday], after the destruction of Jerusalem. The Ebionites and Nazarenes kept up the habit even longer.” 150—p. 382.”
“Irenceus wrote to an Alexandrian to the effect that ‘ It is right, with respect to the feast of the resurrection, that we should 2 celebrate it upon the first day of the week.’ “—A’ote by the Svriac Editor of the ” Lost Writings” 50M Frag. 259.”
Melito, Bishop of Sardis. a.d. 170. “On the Lord’s-day.” Title oj one of his bocks, 5 260—Bakdesanes, a.d. 180. (Died 223.) “On one day, the first of 2 the week, we assemble ourselves together.” 2I > 1—Clement of Alexandria, a.d. 192. (Date, A. A. Hodge.) (Clement died, according to Zahn’s latest investigations, about A.D. 215.)”
“During the last days of Christ’s earthly ministry, and in the subsequent ministry of the apostles, and among their immediate successors, the first day of the week was treated as the * * chief of days,’*
“In the seven weeks between the resurrection and the ascension, Jesus appeared to Christian gatherings on seven separated days, the first two of them surely—probably all of them—being ” the first day of the week.” ‘” During that period He gave many unrecorded ” commandments to the apostles whom He had chosen” (Acts i : 2). What those commandments were we can best infer from the subsequent acts and writings of these inspired men, who taught the churches which they organized, by precept and example, to meet together on the first day of the week to celebrate the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, to engage in social worship, to hear preaching, and to make their weekly collections for benevolence. (Acts 20 : 6-11 ; I Cor. 16 : I.)”
The Sabbath for man: a study of the origin, obligation, history, advantages and present state of Sabbath obsevance.
Discovered in the nineteenth century, The Didache is the earliest Christian document, it pre-dates most of the New Testament, and yet most Christians have not even heard of it. Strange huh?
The Didache is a series of simple documents, that don’t address biblical theology but rather the everyday life of Christians. The main teaching was The Two Way Tradition; others included how to pray, when to fast, the early Church fasted Mondays and Thursdays. When to assemble and their readings which they called the Memoirs of the Apostles.
The Didache says the early Church met on Sunday, that Sunday was the Day of the Lord, they broke bread, shared a meal, sang songs, and read the Memoirs of the Apostles.
“What the ” Fathers” say of the Sabbath is of value chiefly as affording incidental and so reliable testimony to several facts —namely : i. The Old Testament custom of setting apart one ” stated day” in each week for a sacrament, a collection, and social worship, was not abolished by the Apostles, but was uninterruptedly continued by their immediate successors. 2. The first day of the week was thus kept as a Christian festival. 3. The day of the w ^ eek most highly esteemed in the days of the Post-apostolic Fathers was not the seventh, but “the first day of the week,” called also “the eighth day” and ” Sunday.” 4. The additional observance of the seventh day was for a while tolerated in converts from Judaism. 5. ” The first day of the week” was commonly called ” The Lord’s-day,” as in Rev. i : 10.” The Sabbath for man: a study of the origin, obligation, history, advantages and present state of Sabbath obsevance.
The Reformer Martin Luther, even though not an Early Church Father and many of his contemporaries held the same views as the early Church about Sunday and not Saturday as being the Lord’s Day.
Martin Luther on The Sabbath:
He said: “Keep the Sabbath holy for its use both to body and soul ; but if anywhere the day is made holy for the mere day’s sake, if anywhere Anyone one sets up its observance upon a Jewish foundation, then I order you to work on it, to ride on it, to dance on it, to feast on it, to do anything that shall remove this encroachment on the Christian spirit and liberty.” Martin Luther.
“In another place he says:” No day is better or more excellent than another. Some one day, at least, must be selected in each week for attention to these matters [worship and instruction], and, seeing that those who preceded us choose the Lord’s-day for them, this harmless and admitted custom must not be readily changed.” Martin Luther.
Finally…”The Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath” said, Jesus the Christ, Mark 2 : 27.
It’s a case of keeping things in perspective. It’s easy to make an idol of the Sabbath and worship the day rather than worship the God who gave a day of rest for mankind. Not just for man, but the animals also. Beasts of burden pay a heavy price with their bodies and also need a day of rest. The Earth needs a rest, we all need a rest!
So God in His mercy allotted a day, one day a week to rest. And, there’s no problem with that, the problem is exalting the day to be better than or more Holier than any other day. That’s the problem. As a New Testament Christian, every day is Holy, every day is a day of worship. “Pray without ceasing.” Is what we are instructed to do.
However, how the Jews chose to celebrate the Sabbath is their business, but for the Judaizers and those misinformed people who hold Saturday a day in which to worship, I just want to tell you you are in error and are being deceived because it is quite clear from all the references above that the early Church kept Sunday as unto the Lord.
For those who say the Apostles kept the Sabbath because they went to the Synagogue, is a lie. I think it pretty obvious from my references that, that was not the case. “The apostles often went to the synagogue on Saturday to evangelize the Jews,’ but we have no record that any Christian assembly, after the resurrection, met on that day for preaching, or for the Lord’s Supper, or for public worship. Converted Jews raised some controversies as to whether Christians ought not to keep the seventh day as well as the first, but there is no record of any controversy in the early church in regard to keeping the first day.” The Sabbath for man: a study of the origin, obligation, history, advantages and present state of Sabbath obsevance.
Cheryl Mason July 2019.
Chevallier, R. and Whittingham A.M., W. (1834). A Translation of The Epistles of Clement Of Rome, Polycarp And Ignatius, And of The First Apology Of Justin Martyr. New York: The New York Protestant Episcopal Press.
Crafts, W. (n.d.). The Sabbath for man: a study of the origin, obligation, history, advantages and present state of Sabbath obsevance.
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Jefford, C. (2012). Reading the Apostolic Fathers. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic.
Neusner, J. (2005). The Babylonian Talmud. Peabody, Mass: Hendrickson Publishers.
O’Loughlin, T. (2010). The Didache. London: SPCK.
Patzia, A. (2011). Making of the New Testament. Downers Grove, Ill.: Intervarsity Press.
Pritchard, J. (1969). Ancient Near Eastern texts relating to the Old Testament. Edited by James B. Pritchard. Third edition with supplement. Princeton: Princeton University Press, pp.286,287.
Sayce, A. (2004). The Early History of the Hebrews. [Whitefish, Mont.]: Kessinger Publishing.
Schauss, H. and Schauss, H. (1996). The Jewish festivals. New York: Schocken Books.
Youngblood, R., Bruce, F. and Harrison, R. (1995). Nelson’s new illustrated Bible dictionary. Nashville: T. Nelson.