Per Fidem Intrepidus means "Fearless Through Faith". My courage isn't my own, it comes from the Holy Spirit, it's my faith in God and my personal savior Christ Jesus that calms my fears and allows me to move forward in this fallen world. Personally I'm afraid of a lot of stuff, but having the faith that Jesus adopted me as his little, sin filled, brother keeps me going.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

L.O.T.S. More On Sunday

Yesterday I raised several questions on when to celebrate the Sabbath, I discussed the biblical background behind the origins of the Sabbath and how it falls on Saturday, and I discussed the fact that it's ok, biblically, for Christians to celebrate the Sabbath on Sunday, or any other day of the week. But I never did answer the question of how this all came about. Why don't we follow our Hebrew roots and continue to celebrate the Sabbath on Saturday? Jesus and all the Apostles were Jewish, they celebrated the Sabbath on Saturday, why do Christians whose faith is based on Jesus and his chosen 12 Apostles now celebrate the Sabbath on Sunday rather than Saturday. Here's the short answer;

Because we can.

The full answer is a bit more complex, but eventually boils down to "Because we can" in the end, so let's just end it here. No? Ok, you asked for it: Church History 101. 

Many sabbatarian groups blame Constantine for the change from Saturday worship to Sunday worship in 321 AD, unfortunately for these groups they were off by approximately 250 years. The beginning of Christians celebrating on Sunday happened LONG before the legalism of Constantine in 321 AD and the council of Laodicea in 364 AD. If these 4th Century icons did anything at all it was merely making official recognition of something that happened centuries before.

Back in the very early Early Church, Sundays were a festival celebrating Christ's resurrection. Regardless of what Herbert W. Armstrong and his minions say, Christ rose on Sunday and the Early Church celebrated that along with celebrating the Sabbath on Saturday. The Apostles celebrated the Sabbath on Saturday, Jesus taught in the Synagogue on Saturday and that tradition carried forward for years. 

Keep in mind that the Early Church was not a separate church but was a sect of Judaism. This changed as the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20) brought Gentiles into the mix. Many prospective Christians were turned off by the idea of circumcision and many other restriction of the Mosaic law, but they were clamoring for the Word of God as the Apostles spread that word. What to do? 

At the Council of Jerusalem in 50 AD it was decided that non-Jews could be accepted as Christians without adhering to Mosaic Laws, a prospective Christian did not need to be circumcised, nor did he have to obey strict dietary law. Their primary requirements were "to abstain from food polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from the meat of strangled animals and from blood" (Acts 15:20). This did not go over very well at all and I think, at least, this is where the great schism between Jew and Christian started in earnest. In response Judaism made circumcision requirements even stricter. 

After the destruction of the second temple in 70 AD the Jewish people were hit with a special tax by the Romans under Emperor Vespasian, the Fiscus Judaicus. The Jews had a tax in place to maintain the temple, 2 denarii a year, which after the destruction of the temple in the Jewish Revolt of 66 - 73 AD was taken over by Vespasian who directed the funds to maintain the Temple of Jupiter  Optimus Maximus, the center of the Roman religion. That didn't go over well with the Jews, having to pay tax to maintain a pagan temple, and the fact that the early Christians didn't have to pay it really ticked off the Jews. 

There was a lot of bad blood between the Jews and the Christians after the Jewish revolt and the Fiscus Judaicus. The antagonism can be seen reflected by the language used in the Gospel of John which was penned after the defeat of the Jews in 73 AD
After these things Jesus was walking in Galilee, for He was unwilling to walk in Judea because the Jews were seeking to kill Him. (John 7:1)
Yet no one was speaking openly of Him for fear of the Jews. (John 7:13)
30 I and the Father are one.” 31 The Jews picked up stones again to stone Him. (John 10:30-31)
There's a lot of antagonism there, and keep in mind that not long before this period of time, John was a devout Jew and proud to be one.

About the time of John's writing his Gospel, about 85 AD, another work was written titled the Didache (pronounced die-dake) which means "Teaching". The full name of the Didache is The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles. The Didache is an anonymous work, a pastoral manual that reveals much about how the early Christians saw themselves in relation to their Jewish roots and how they adapted their Judaism for gentiles. Verse 14:1 of the Didache says 
And on the Lord's own day gather yourselves together and break bread and give thanks, first confessing your transgressions, that your sacrifice may be pure.
This is nothing new, it's something that has actually been going on for over 20 years by then, Luke writes:
"And on the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul began talking to them, intending to depart the next day, and he prolonged his message until midnight." (Acts 20:7)
The tradition of meeting on the first day of the week spread and eventually because of these meetings became to be known as "The Lord's Day" as mentioned in the Didache. Paul liked the idea of meeting on the first day of the week, He directed other churches to meet on the first day of the week through out his career. Here we have Paul giving direction to the churches of Corinth and Galatia to meet on the first day of the week and do their tithing then;
Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I directed the churches of Galatia, so do you also. On the first day of every week each one of you is to put aside and save, as he may prosper, so that no collections be made when I come. (1 Corinthians 16:1-2)
My guess is that Sunday meetings gave the early Judeo-Christians a day where they could do their own thing in the Christian portion of their beliefs, communion, confession, and preaching. They could do all of this without interrupt their traditional Jewish Sabbath which they still celebrated, there's ample documentation of the Apostles, especially Paul, attending Synagogue on the Sabbath. It's seen in Acts 13:13-14, Acts 16:13, Acts 17:2.  It is my personal belief that as more and more Gentiles came into Christianity they attended the Sunday meetings and not Synagogue and the change gradually shifted the primary Holy Day from the Sabbath to Sunday as gentiles filled the ranks of the early Christians.

So rather than a decision being made and sealed with the strike of a gavel in a meeting somewhere ("The aye's have it, the motion to worship God on Sundays is approved") it was a gradual change over decades, possibly quicker as Paul did quite a job evangelizing the gentiles. And the first day of the week was very meaningful for the early Christians. You can see the events that happened in their lifetimes that would make them want to celebrate the Glory of the Lord on the first day of the week:
  1. Jesus rose from the dead on the first day of the week (John 20:1)
  2. Jesus appeared to ten of His disciples on that first day of the week (John 20:19)
  3. Jesus waited one week, and on the next first day of the week He appeared to the eleven disciples (John 20:26)
  4. The promised coming of the Holy Spirit was fulfilled on the first day of the week, the day of Pentecost. Penticost by law came on the first day of the week (Lev 23:16)
  5. On that first day of the week the three thousand converts were united into the   New Testament covenant separating from Judaism (Acts 2:41)
  6. On that same first day of the week the rite of Christian baptism into the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit was administered for the first time (Acts 2:41)

And I stand corrected from yesterday's blog - no one ever changed the Sabbath day to Sunday, the Sabbath day is still Saturday, as we see here, it was celebrated by Christians along with their Sunday worship. The Sabbath commemorated a finished creation with rest, the first day commemorates a finished redemption and a new covenant. The Sabbath is a day of rest and quiet, the first day is a day of worship and praise. 
Shout joyfully to the Lord, all the earth; Break forth and sing for joy and sing praises. (Psalm 98:4)

No comments:

Post a Comment