Establishing the Case for Christian Rest and Worship on the Lord’s Day
Recently, I had an opportunity to share religious thoughts with my SDA friends. We even had a series of online discussions on some common anti-catholic objections but at some point left the issue on the Sabbath Day untouched.
I. THE WALL THAT DIVIDES US
As opposed to mainstream Christianity, Seventh Day Adventist Church still adheres to the Jewish Sabbath [Saturday] instead of the Lord’s Day [Sunday]. They insist that the Catholic Church illicitly changed the traditional day of worship from Saturday to Sunday, and consequently label all Christians who worship on Sunday—‘the false Sabbath’—as having the Mark of the Beast.
The Sabbath will be the great test of loyalty, for it is the point of truth especially controverted. When the final test shall be brought to bear upon men, then the line of distinction will be drawn between those who serve God and those who serve Him not. While the observance of the false sabbath in compliance with the law of the state, contrary to the fourth commandment, will be an avowal of allegiance to a power that is in opposition to God, the keeping of the true Sabbath, in obedience to God's law, is an evidence of loyalty to the Creator. While one class, by accepting the sign of submission to earthly powers, receive the mark of the beast, the other choosing the token of allegiance to divine authority, receive the seal of God.
-Ellen Gould White, co-founder of the Seventh Day Adventist Church [c. 1860]
Chapter 38: The Final Warning, The Great Controversy Between Christ and Satan, p. 605
SDA also claims that it is unlawful to make such changes because Sabbath was consecrated by God as holy day [Ex. 20:11] and proclaimed it as a “perpetual” or “everlasting” covenant as far as the Old Testament is concerned.
Therefore the Israelites shall keep the sabbath, observing the sabbath throughout their generations, as a perpetual covenant.
II. RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE TWO COVENANTS
However, let us always remember that the Bible has a twofold revelation from God—the Old and the New Covenant. These two are inseparable and complementary. Thus, as a matter of traditional way of interpreting the Sacred Scriptures, one must read the new in the light of the old and not in the vacuum of correct understanding of either of the two.
The Old Covenant was still in force until the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. Given that He did not come to abolish it, He expressed his divine mission to fulfill it [Mt. 5:17] on the context of putting it to a higher level from a mere carnal, ceremonial and legalistic one. Under the New Covenant, a paradigm shift would be in effect which includes: summing up of the Decalogue to the Greatest Commandment [Mt. 22:36-40] as well as the introduction of the “new” moral teachings of Christ, obligatory tithing to voluntary contributions [2 Cor. 9:7], Jewish circumcision to Christian baptism [Col. 2:11-12], breaking the tradition of divorce [Mk. 10:2-12], cessation of animal sacrifices [Heb. 9:1-14], and new and eternal High Priesthood [Jesus Christ: see Heb. 3:1, 5:5, 9:11] among the others. But then, if there’s new priesthood and new sacrifice, why not new day of worship?
For when there is a change in the priesthood, there is necessarily a change in the law as well.
Of course we must concede that early Christians worship on Saturday to fulfill their obligation as Jewish people (because first Christians are Jews e.g. Mary and the apostles) as much as they continue to practice Mosaic dietary law [controversy on Council of Jerusalem (Acts 15)].
You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews.
By the example of the Lord [Mt. 4:23, 9:35, 12:9, 13:54; Mk. 1:21, 1:39, 3:1, etc], even early Christian leaders went to the synagogues and the temple to publicly preach the Gospel [Acts 9:20, 13:5, 14, 43, 14:1, 17:10, 17, 18:4, 19, 19:8 etc] but at some point prohibited to do so because they were seen as being divisive in Jewish religion. Eventually, they began to meet in their homes and as the time went on, they formalized their doctrines and practices one-by one including the day of worship.
III. JEWISH SABBATH: IS IT REALLY EVERLASTING?
Now with regards to the supposed “everlasting covenant” of keeping the Jewish Sabbath, a careful study of the Holy Bible reveals something that SDA believers cannot accept.
Based on the English translation of the text on Exodus 31:16, it reads:
Therefore the Israelites shall keep the sabbath, observing the sabbath throughout their generations, as a perpetual covenant.
But turning to the original Hebrew text, it reads:
Exodus 31:16 Hebrew Study Bible (Apostolic / Interlinear)
וְשָׁמְר֥וּ בְנֵֽי־ יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל אֶת־ הַשַּׁבָּ֑ת לַעֲשֹׂ֧ות אֶת־ הַשַּׁבָּ֛ת לְדֹרֹתָ֖ם בְּרִ֥ית עֹולָֽם׃
Furthermore, a controversial word seems to appear on all passages in the Old Testament regarding the Sabbath as a “perpetual” covenant…
Leviticus 16:31 Hebrew Study Bible (Apostolic / Interlinear)
שַׁבַּ֨ת שַׁבָּתֹ֥ון הִיא֙ לָכֶ֔ם וְעִנִּיתֶ֖ם אֶת־ נַפְשֹׁתֵיכֶ֑ם חֻקַּ֖ת עֹולָֽם׃
Leviticus 24:8 Hebrew Study Bible (Apostolic / Interlinear)
בְּיֹ֨ום הַשַּׁבָּ֜ת בְּיֹ֣ום הַשַּׁבָּ֗ת יַֽעַרְכֶ֛נּוּ לִפְנֵ֥י יְהוָ֖ה תָּמִ֑יד מֵאֵ֥ת בְּנֵֽי־ יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל בְּרִ֥ית עֹולָֽם׃
Notice the Hebrew word “עוֹלָֽם׃,” it turns out that NAS Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible with Hebrew-Aramaic and Greek Dictionaries translated it as:
5769 [e] ‘ō·w·lām. עוֹלָֽם׃ an everlasting
long duration, antiquity, futurity
ages (1), all successive (1), always (1), ancient (13), ancient times (3), continual (1), days of old (1), eternal (2), eternity (3), ever (10), Everlasting (2), everlasting (110), forever (136), forever and ever (1), forever* (70), forevermore* (1), lasting (1), long (2), long ago (3), long past (1), long time (3), never* (17), old (11), permanent (10), permanently (1), perpetual (29), perpetually (1).
Source: NAS Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible with Hebrew-Aramaic and Greek Dictionaries
Copyright © 1981, 1998 by The Lockman Foundation
All rights reserved Lockman.org
Copyright © 1981, 1998 by The Lockman Foundation All rights reserved Lockman.org
Surprisingly, the word “עוֹלָֽם׃” was also used on the institution of Jewish Circumcision during the time of patriarch Abraham as an “everlasting covenant” of God and his people:
Both the slave born in your house and the one bought with your money must be circumcised. So shall my covenant be in your flesh an everlasting covenant.
Genesis 17:13 Hebrew Study Bible (Apostolic / Interlinear)
הִמֹּ֧ול יִמֹּ֛ול יְלִ֥יד בֵּֽיתְךָ֖ וּמִקְנַ֣ת כַּסְפֶּ֑ךָ וְהָיְתָ֧ה בְרִיתִ֛י בִּבְשַׂרְכֶ֖ם לִבְרִ֥ית עֹולָֽם׃
Taking this into account, we all know that under the New Covenant, this circumcision [1 Cor. 7:18-19, Gal. 5:6, 6:15 etc] is not binding to all Christians anymore just like any other Mosaic Law [Rom. 6:14]. So, are we ought to believe that it was indeed “everlasting” or “perpetual” in the truest and strictest sense of the word? How can we reconcile the imminent contradiction that a “perpetual” covenant became void and not binding after a period of time?
Apparently, the word “עוֹלָֽם׃” has a more feasible meaning that could be used to avoid any sort of dilemma within the premise of the Sacred Scriptures rather than “everlasting” or “perpetual” which are problematic conventional translations. Considering again the NAS Concordance, notice how it included “long duration,” “lasting” and “long time” as possible translations of the said Hebrew word.
Applying these other translations on the Jewish Circumcision being an “everlasting covenant,” it could only mean that the circumcision must be made for a long period of time until its true essence is revealed as to the case of the Christian Baptism. Likewise on the Sabbath as an “everlasting covenant,” it could only mean that the Sabbath must be kept until the day that its full meaning is revealed as to the case of the Lord’s Day.
IV. OTHER SIGNS OF “EVERLASTING” COVENANT
The Bible, particularly the Pentateuch, often speaks about God’s intention to ensure the fidelity of his people to his commandments. It is for this reason that He instituted many signs of His covenant as manifestations of the election of Israelites as God’s own nation in contrast to pagans inhabiting around them. Here is a list of some important “perpetual” or “everlasting” ordinances mentioned in the Holy Scriptures:
· Aaronic Priesthood
and you shall gird them with sashes and tie headdresses on them; and the priesthood shall be theirs by a perpetual ordinance. You shall then ordain Aaron and his sons.
· Washing of Hands and Feet Before Serving at the Altar
The Lord spoke to Moses: You shall make a bronze basin with a bronze stand for washing. You shall put it between the tent of meeting and the altar, and you shall put water in it; with the water Aaron and his sons shall wash their hands and their feet. When they go into the tent of meeting, or when they come near the altar to minister, to make an offering by fire to the Lord, they shall wash with water, so that they may not die. They shall wash their hands and their feet, so that they may not die: it shall be a perpetual ordinance for them, for him and for his descendants throughout their generations.
· Prohibition of Eating Blood and Fat
It shall be a perpetual statute throughout your generations, in all your settlements: you must not eat any fat or any blood.
· Sacrificial Offering
The Lord spoke to Moses: Speak to Aaron and his sons and to all the people of Israel and say to them: This is what the Lord has commanded. If anyone of the house of Israel slaughters an ox or a lamb or a goat in the camp, or slaughters it outside the camp, and does not bring it to the entrance of the tent of meeting, to present it as an offering to the Lord before the tabernacle of the Lord, he shall be held guilty of bloodshed; he has shed blood, and he shall be cut off from the people. This is in order that the people of Israel may bring their sacrifices that they offer in the open field, that they may bring them to the Lord, to the priest at the entrance of the tent of meeting, and offer them as sacrifices of well-being to the Lord. The priest shall dash the blood against the altar of the Lord at the entrance of the tent of meeting, and turn the fat into smoke as a pleasing odor to the Lord, so that they may no longer offer their sacrifices for goat-demons, to whom they prostitute themselves. This shall be a statute forever to them throughout their generations.
· Priestly Portions on Sacrificial Offerings
For I have taken the breast of the elevation offering, and the thigh that is offered, from the people of Israel, from their sacrifices of well-being, and have given them to Aaron the priest and to his sons, as a perpetual due from the people of Israel.
these the Lord commanded to be given them, when he anointed them, as a perpetual due from the people of Israel throughout their generations.
· Sabbath Fasting
Leviticus 16:29-34 Amplified Bible
It shall be a statute to you forever that in the seventh month [nearly October] on the tenth day of the month you shall afflict yourselves [by fasting with penitence and humiliation] and do no work at all, either the native-born or the stranger who dwells temporarily among you.
For on this day atonement shall be made for you, to cleanse you; from all your sins you shall be clean before the Lord.
It is a sabbath of [solemn] rest to you, and you shall afflict yourselves [by fasting with penitence and humiliation]; it is a statute forever.
And the priest who shall be anointed and consecrated to minister in the priest’s office in his father’s stead shall make atonement, wearing the holy linen garments;
He shall make atonement for the Holy Sanctuary, for the Tent of Meeting, and for the altar [of burnt offering in the court], and shall make atonement for the priests and for all the people of the assembly.
This shall be an everlasting statute for you, that atonement may be made for the Israelites for all their sins once a year. And Moses did as the Lord commanded him.
These are the appointed festivals of the Lord, the holy convocations, which you shall celebrate at the time appointed for them. In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month, at twilight there shall be a passover offering to the Lord, and on the fifteenth day of the same month is the festival of unleavened bread to the Lord; seven days you shall eat unleavened bread. On the first day you shall have a holy convocation; you shall not work at your occupations. For seven days you shall present the Lord’s offerings by fire; on the seventh day there shall be a holy convocation: you shall not work at your occupations.
The Lord spoke to Moses: Speak to the people of Israel and say to them: When you enter the land that I am giving you and you reap its harvest, you shall bring the sheaf of the first fruits of your harvest to the priest. He shall raise the sheaf before the Lord, that you may find acceptance; on the day after the sabbath the priest shall raise it. On the day when you raise the sheaf, you shall offer a lamb a year old, without blemish, as a burnt offering to the Lord. And the grain offering with it shall be two-tenths of an ephah of choice flour mixed with oil, an offering by fire of pleasing odor to the Lord; and the drink offering with it shall be of wine, one-fourth of a hin. You shall eat no bread or parched grain or fresh ears until that very day, until you have brought the offering of your God: it is a statute forever throughout your generations in all your settlements.
· Feast of Weeks or Pentecost
And from the day after the sabbath, from the day on which you bring the sheaf of the elevation offering, you shall count off seven weeks; they shall be complete. You shall count until the day after the seventh sabbath, fifty days; then you shall present an offering of new grain to the Lord. You shall bring from your settlements two loaves of bread as an elevation offering, each made of two-tenths of an ephah; they shall be of choice flour, baked with leaven, as first fruits to the Lord. You shall present with the bread seven lambs a year old without blemish, one young bull, and two rams; they shall be a burnt offering to the Lord, along with their grain offering and their drink offerings, an offering by fire of pleasing odor to the Lord. You shall also offer one male goat for a sin offering, and two male lambs a year old as a sacrifice of well-being. The priest shall raise them with the bread of the first fruits as an elevation offering before the Lord, together with the two lambs; they shall be holy to the Lord for the priest. On that same day you shall make proclamation; you shall hold a holy convocation; you shall not work at your occupations. This is a statute forever in all your settlements throughout your generations.
When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap to the very edges of your field, or gather the gleanings of your harvest; you shall leave them for the poor and for the alien: I am the Lord your God.
· Day of Atonement
The Lord spoke to Moses, saying: Now, the tenth day of this seventh month is the day of atonement; it shall be a holy convocation for you: you shall deny yourselves and present the Lord’s offering by fire; and you shall do no work during that entire day; for it is a day of atonement, to make atonement on your behalf before the Lord your God. For anyone who does not practice self-denial[b] during that entire day shall be cut off from the people. And anyone who does any work during that entire day, such a one I will destroy from the midst of the people. You shall do no work: it is a statute forever throughout your generations in all your settlements. It shall be to you a sabbath of complete rest, and you shall deny yourselves; on the ninth day of the month at evening, from evening to evening you shall keep your sabbath.
· Sanctuary Light
The Lord spoke to Moses, saying: Command the people of Israel to bring you pure oil of beaten olives for the lamp, that a light may be kept burning regularly. Aaron shall set it up in the tent of meeting, outside the curtain of the covenant, to burn from evening to morning before the Lord regularly; it shall be a statute forever throughout your generations. He shall set up the lamps on the lampstand of pure gold before the Lord regularly.
· Showbread during Sabbath
You shall take choice flour, and bake twelve loaves of it; two-tenths of an ephah shall be in each loaf. You shall place them in two rows, six in a row, on the table of pure gold. You shall put pure frankincense with each row, to be a token offering for the bread, as an offering by fire to the Lord. Every sabbath day Aaron shall set them in order before the Lord regularly as a commitment of the people of Israel, as a covenant forever. They shall be for Aaron and his descendants, who shall eat them in a holy place, for they are most holy portions for him from the offerings by fire to the Lord, a perpetual due.
· Sabbatical Year
The Lord spoke to Moses on Mount Sinai, saying: Speak to the people of Israel and say to them: When you enter the land that I am giving you, the land shall observe a sabbath for the Lord. Six years you shall sow your field, and six years you shall prune your vineyard, and gather in their yield; but in the seventh year there shall be a sabbath of complete rest for the land, a sabbath for the Lord: you shall not sow your field or prune your vineyard. You shall not reap the aftergrowth of your harvest or gather the grapes of your unpruned vine: it shall be a year of complete rest for the land. You may eat what the land yields during its sabbath—you, your male and female slaves, your hired and your bound laborers who live with you; for your livestock also, and for the wild animals in your land all its yield shall be for food.
(see also Lev. 19:30)
V. THE LORD’S DAY: FULFILLMENT OF THE JEWISH SABBATH
Accordingly, the two accounts of the Decalogue in the Old Testament expose us to the dual intentions of God regarding the institution of the Sabbath, namely, the Creation and the Great Exodus.
(a) The Sabbath Day points to the Old Creation
The book of Exodus links the Sabbath Day on the commemoration of the old creation when God, after six days of work rested and contemplated.
Remember the sabbath day, and keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work. But the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God; you shall not do any work—you, your son or your daughter, your male or female slave, your livestock, or the alien resident in your towns. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but rested the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day and consecrated it.
(b) The Lord’s Day inaugurates the New Creation
The Lord’s Day clearly points to the new creation brought to us by the Risen Lord. The New Testament writers reveal that the first day of the week –Sunday which is the Lord’s Day—is now the most important day on the life of Christians. Evangelists unanimously say that Jesus resurrected on this day [Mt. 28:1, Mk. 16:2, 9, Jn. 20:1]. John, in his gospel, gives us the account that Jesus’ appearances also happened on this fateful day [Jn. 20:19, 26].
Apostle Paul, in his epistle to the Romans, wrote that because of this victory of Christ over death, Jesus gave us “newness of life.”
Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.
Moreover, he stressed that “we are (now) discharged from the law” and that we are called into the “new life of the Spirit.”
But now we are discharged from the law, dead to that which held us captive, so that we are slaves not under the old written code but in the new life of the Spirit.
But this is the most interesting fact that John the Evangelist provides us:
When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.
Jesus’ action evokes the Old Creation recorded in the book of Genesis [Gen. 2:7] when God breathed on Adam to give him life. This is a very important detail that places Jesus alongside with the Father who gives the breath of life—the Holy Spirit. The parallelism implies that just as the Father gave life to Adam in the Old Creation, likewise Jesus now gives his disciples a new spiritual life in the New Creation.
2. GREAT EXODUS
(a) The Sabbath Day points to the Old Great Exodus
The book of Deuteronomy associates the Sabbath Day on the memorial of the liberation of Israelites from the Egyptian tyranny.
Observe the sabbath day and keep it holy, as the Lord your God commanded you. Six days you shall labor and do all your work. But the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God; you shall not do any work—you, or your son or your daughter, or your male or female slave, or your ox or your donkey, or any of your livestock, or the resident alien in your towns, so that your male and female slave may rest as well as you. Remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God brought you out from there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm; therefore the Lord your God commanded you to keep the sabbath day.
(b) The Lord’s Day heralds the New Great Exodus
The gospel narratives are very clear on the paradoxical nature of Jesus’ mission: He must die so that we may have life. Jesus Christ, the sacrificial lamb, was treated as a ransom for the sins of many:
just as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.”
1 Timothy 2:5-7
For there is one God; there is also one mediator between God and humankind, Christ Jesus, himself human, who gave himself a ransom for all—this was attested at the right time.
1 Peter 1:17-19
If you invoke as Father the one who judges all people impartially according to their deeds, live in reverent fear during the time of your exile. You know that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your ancestors, not with perishable things like silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without defect or blemish.
However, death should not be the end of his mission. He, the Author of Life [cf. Acts 3:15], victoriously conquered death, as he prophesied, and rose from dead on the third day. This triumphant and glorious day marks the liberation of God’s people from sin and death to life.
For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.
1 Corinthians 15:57
But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.
Clearly, just as the Father liberated Israelites from the Egyptian oppression and led His people to the promise land according to the Old Great Exodus, so now Jesus frees Christians from the bonds of death and sin and gives us the gift of eternal life according to the New Great Exodus.
VI. THE LORD’S DAY: POST-ASCENSION PRACTICE ACCORDING TO THE BIBLE
As presented above, the first day of the week/Lord’s Day/Sunday marks the most memorable and holy day for all Christians since this is the day when Jesus inaugurated New Creation and Great Exodus. Although the Bible never mentioned any explicit divine command for Christians to worship on this glorious day, it apparently shows that such was the prevalent practice among them.
On the first day of the week, when we met to break bread, Paul was holding a discussion with them; since he intended to leave the next day, he continued speaking until midnight.
This verse reveals that early Christians including Apostle Paul met on “the first day of the week”—the day after the Jewish Sabbath—to “break bread,” a traditional term describing the Eucharistic celebration which is essentially the commemoration of the Lord’s Supper. In addition to it, Apostle in one of his epistles writes:
1 Corinthians 16:1-2
Now concerning the collection for the saints: you should follow the directions I gave to the churches of Galatia. On the first day of every week, each of you is to put aside and save whatever extra you earn, so that collections need not be taken when I come.
This Pauline statement tells us that: (1) “collection for the saints” is already a customary practice presumably pioneered by the Galatian churches; and (2) the first day of the week is the designated day for it which also implies that they form an assembly during that day.
Furthermore, Saint John, in his book of Revelation, started receiving visions on the Lord’s Day. The message is in fact so plain that it gives an impression that the Lord’s Day is already an established day during his time.
I, John, your brother who share with you in Jesus the persecution and the kingdom and the patient endurance, was on the island called Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus I was in the spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet
Moreover, it exhibits parallelism on the story of the Great Theophany at Mount Sinai during the time of Moses:
On the morning of the third day there was thunder and lightning, as well as a thick cloud on the mountain, and a blast of a trumpet so loud that all the people who were in the camp trembled.
(see also Heb. 12:19)
The eschatological element in this Johannine vision recalls an instance on the book of Isaiah:
And on that day a great trumpet will be blown, and those who were lost in the land of Assyria and those who were driven out to the land of Egypt will come and worship the Lord on the holy mountain at Jerusalem.
(see also Joel 2:1; Mt. 24:31; 1 Cor. 15:52; 1 Thes. 4:16)
By relating Rev. 1:9-10 and Isaiah 27:13, we can conclude that the “trumpet” signifies worship to the Lord. The image as well as the message is clear: Saint John saw a heavenly worship on the Lord’s Day. Thus, God, through this vision, ratified and confirmed the compatibility of the early Church’s practice of worshipping on the Lord’s Day with the heavenly worship.
VII. THE FAITH OF THE EARLY CHURCH FATHERS
Literatures written by the Early Church Fathers are unanimous in pointing out that Christians are not obliged to observe Jewish Sabbath anymore but the Lord’s Day—the Day when Jesus rose from the dead. It also explicitly confirms the practice of Christian worship during the Lord’s Day—a day distinct from the Jewish Sabbath.
"But every Lord’s day . . . gather yourselves together and break bread, and give thanksgiving after having confessed your transgressions, that your sacrifice may be pure. But let no one that is at variance with his fellow come together with you, until they be reconciled, that your sacrifice may not be profaned" (Didache 14 [A.D. 70]).
The Letter of Barnabas
"We keep the eighth day [Sunday] with joyfulness, the day also on which Jesus rose again from the dead" (Letter of Barnabas 15:6–8 [A.D. 74]).
Ignatius of Antioch
"[T]hose who were brought up in the ancient order of things [i.e. Jews] have come to the possession of a new hope, no longer observing the Sabbath, but living in the observance of the Lord’s day, on which also our life has sprung up again by him and by his death" (Letter to the Magnesians 8 [A.D. 110]).
"The apostles further appointed: On the first day of the week let there be service, and the reading of the holy scriptures, and the oblation [sacrifice of the Mass], because on the first day of the week [i.e., Sunday] our Lord rose from the place of the dead, and on the first day of the week he arose upon the world, and on the first day of the week he ascended up to heaven, and on the first day of the week he will appear at last with the angels of heaven" (Didascalia 2 [A.D. 225]).
"The Sabbath was the end of the first creation, the Lord’s day was the beginning of the second, in which he renewed and restored the old in the same way as he prescribed that they should formerly observe the Sabbath as a memorial of the end of the first things, so we honor the Lord’s day as being the memorial of the new creation" (On Sabbath and Circumcision 3 [A.D. 345]).
Council of Laodicea
"Christians should not Judaize and should not be idle on the Sabbath, but should work on that day; they should, however, particularly reverence the Lord’s day and, if possible, not work on it, because they were Christians" (Canon 29 [A.D. 360]).
VIII. LET’S FACE IT. WE NEED TO MOVE ON!
Considering the presentation above which established the case for the Christian worship on the Lord’s Day, it is indeed justified that Christians are no longer bound to keep the ancient Jewish Sabbath for the reason that its ceremonial dimension, together with other Mosaic Law, had been abrogated by the merits of Christ’s victory over sin and death and the New Covenant he mediated for us. Jesus himself invoked his authority over the Sabbath:
But if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless. For the Son of Man is lord of the sabbath.”
(See also Mk. 12:8; Luke 6:5)
He also stressed the fact that Sabbath is for the people of God and not the other way around:
Then he said to them, “The sabbath was made for humankind, and not humankind for the sabbath;
This occasion illustrates the two main elements of the Sabbath: (1) the significance; and (2) the day allotted for man’s rest and worship to God. The first element constitutes the moral obligation of the Sabbath rooted from natural law which can never be abrogated. The Second element represents the ceremonial dimension of the Sabbath, a particular day allotted to meet its moral obligation which can be abolished.
Actually, this question of days of worship or celebration is already addressed by Apostle Paul in his epistle to the Colossians:
And when you were dead in trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive together with him, when he forgave us all our trespasses, erasing the record that stood against us with its legal demands. He set this aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and made a public example of them, triumphing over them in it.Therefore do not let anyone condemn you in matters of food and drink or of observing festivals, new moons, or sabbaths. These are only a shadow of what is to come, but the substance belongs to Christ.
Apostle Paul mentioned the observance of festivals, new moons, and Sabbaths celebrated on yearly, monthly, and weekly bases respectively. All of these celebrations are set in the ancient calendar according to the movements of celestial bodies (i.e. sun, moon and stars) and elemental spirits taught in pagan circles, something that the apostle also warned us about:
Now, however, that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and beggarly elemental spirits? How can you want to be enslaved to them again? You are observing special days, and months, and seasons, and years. I am afraid that my work for you may have been wasted.
So, we, Christians should not be judged for not observing the Jewish Sabbaths and other festivities in the old Jewish religion since we are "not under the law but under grace" (Rom. 6:14) and Christ himself cancelled the legal bonds of the old Mosaic Law through his cross (Col. 2:13-17).
Furthermore, the author of Epistle to the Hebrews has something to add to this matter:
Furthermore, the author of Epistle to the Hebrews has something to add to this matter:
For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not speak later about another day. So then, a sabbath rest still remains for the people of God; for those who enter God’s rest also cease from their labors as God did from his. Let us therefore make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one may fall through such disobedience as theirs.He insists that God later spoke of "another day," meaning that God ordained a new day aside from Saturday Jewish Sabbath to serve the same purpose of "a sabbath rest" for his people.
Finally, it should be clear that although the Lord’s Day is often described as "the Christian sabbath," this is in a way (a) an inaccurate designation since Sabbath has always been the Sabbath—the seventh day of the week, but is also in a way (b) correct since the Church observes a distinct celebration (Commemoration of the Resurrection of Christ) but with parallel function (rest and worship) on the Lord’s Day—the first/eighth day of the week.
Jesus rose from the dead "on the first day of the week." Because it is the "first day," the day of Christ's Resurrection recalls the first creation. Because it is the "eighth day" following the sabbath, it symbolizes the new creation ushered in by Christ's Resurrection. For Christians it has become the first of all days, the first of all feasts, the Lord's Day (he kuriake hemera, dies dominica) Sunday:
We all gather on the day of the sun, for it is the first day [after the Jewish sabbath, but also the first day] when God, separating matter from darkness, made the world; and on this same day Jesus Christ our Savior rose from the dead.2174, Catechism of the Catholic Church
Sunday is expressly distinguished from the sabbath which it follows chronologically every week; for Christians its ceremonial observance replaces that of the sabbath. In Christ's Passover, Sunday fulfills the spiritual truth of the Jewish sabbath and announces man's eternal rest in God. For worship under the Law prepared for the mystery of Christ, and what was done there prefigured some aspects of Christ:
Those who lived according to the old order of things have come to a new hope, no longer keeping the sabbath, but the Lord's Day, in which our life is blessed by him and by his death.2175, Catechism of the Catholic Church
Jesus indeed laid the foundation for the Lord’s Day as the day of rest and worship for Christians and emphasized it through his apparitions. There is also an overwhelming evidence of early Christians worshipping during the Lord’s Day instead of the Sabbath which suggests that we too are called to do the same. Definitely, the observance of the Lord’s Day instead of the Sabbath is not a deviation from the true faith but a sure sign of obedience to the example of Christ, the apostles, and other early Christians.