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From Sabbath to Sunday:
A Historical Investigation of the
Rise of Sunday Observance in Early Christianity

by Samuele Bacchiocchi



Table of Contents


CHAPTER 1 - Introduction
The Present Crisis of the Lordís Day
The Problem and Objectives of this Study

CHAPTER 2 - Christ and the Lord's Day
The Sabbathís Typology and Messianic Fulfillment
The Attitude of Christ to the Sabbath
   Early patristic interpretations
   Early Sabbath healings
   The man with the withered hand
   The crippled woman
   The paralytic and the blind man
   The plucking of ears of corn
The Sabbath in the Letter to the Hebrews
An Admonition of Christ Regarding the Sabbath

CHAPTER 3 - The Resurrection-Appearances and Origin of Sunday Observance
The Resurrection
   Lord's Supper
The Appearances of the Risen Christ

CHAPTER 4 - Three New Testament Texts and the Origin of Sunday
1 Corinthians 16:1-3
Acts 20:7-12
Revelation 1:10
   Easter Sunday
   The Day of the Lord

CHAPTER 5 - Jerusalem and the Origin of Sunday
The Jerusalem Church in the New Testament
   The place of Christian gatherings
   The time of Christian gatherings
   The theological orientation of the Jerusalem church
The Jerusalem Church after A.D. 70
   The Ebionites
   The Nazarenes
   The Malediction of the Christians
   Hadrian's Policy

CHAPTER 6 - Rome and the Origin of Sunday
Predominance of Gentile Converts
Early Differentiation between Jews and Christians
Anti-Judaic Feelings and Measures
   Roman measures and attitudes
   Christian measures and attitudes
The Church of Rome and the Sabbath
Rome and the Easter Controversy
   The Origin of Easter Sunday
   Easter Sunday and Weekly Sunday
The Primacy of the Church of Rome

CHAPTER 7 - Anti-Judaism in the Fathers and the Origin of Sunday
Justin Martyr

CHAPTER 8 - Sun Worship and the Origin of Sunday
Sun Worship and the Planetary Week prior to A.D. 150
   Sun Worship
   Planetary Week
   The enhancement of the Day of the Sun
Reflexes of Sun Worship on Christianity
   Eastward Orientation
   The Date of Christmas
The Day of the Sun and the Origin of Sunday

CHAPTER 9 - The Theology of Sunday
The Eighth Day
   Continuation of Sabbath
   Superiority of Eighth Day
   The detachment of the Eighth Day from Sunday

CHAPTER 10 - Retrospect and Prospect

[The following points are things we highlighted while reading this chapter about the author's conclusions:

* "This means, to put it bluntly, that Sunday observance does not rest on a foundation of Biblical theology and/or of apostolic authority, but on later contributory factors which we have endeavored to identify in our present study."

* "...the complete application of the Sabbath commandment of a bodily rest to Sunday was not accomplished before the fifth and sixth centuries. This corroborates our contention that Sunday became the day of rest and worship not by virtue of an apostolic precept but rather by ecclesiastical authority exercised particularly by the Church of Rome. In the past this explanation has been regarded virtually as an established fact by Catholic theologians and historians."

* "For those Christians who define their beliefs and practices exclusively by the Reformation principle of sola Scriptura, to observe Sunday as the Lordís day not on the authority of the Scripture but of the tradition of the Church, is a paradoxical predicament."

* "This justification of Sunday observance on the basis of the Sabbath commandment raises important theological questions: How is it possible to maintain that the Sabbath "has been fulfilled and abolished in Jesus" and yet at the same time enjoin Sunday observance by appealing to the same Sabbath commandment? Moreover, how can the fourth commandment (third according to Catholic reckoning) be legitimately applied to Sunday, when it is the seventh and not the first day that the commandment demands to keep holy?"

* "...Sunday observance "is purely a creation of the Catholic Church." "

* "We have shown that Sunday arose not as a divine precept demanding the sanctification of time, but as an ecclesiastical institution designed to force a differentiation from Jewish Sabbath keeping."

* "The resurrection of Christ, which in time became the dominant reason for Sunday observance, initially was commemorated by a common gathering for worship (Justin, I Apology 67) and not by a whole day of rest."

* "We have shown, for instance, that though Christís resurrection is greatly exalted in the New Testament, there is no hint suggesting that the event is to be commemorated at a specific time. The very Lordís Supper, which in time became the essence of Sunday worship, initially was celebrated at indeterminate times and commemorated Christís death and parousia rather than His resurrection. According to Pauline teaching, the believer is to honor Christís resurrection existentially, namely by walking after baptism "in newness of life" (Romans 6:4; Colossians 2:12-13)."

* "The fact that Sunday became a day of rest not by virtue of its historical genesis or theological meaning but rather by absorbing gradually the prerogatives of the Sabbath, makes it virtually impossible to construct a valid theological basis to enjoin rest on Sunday."

* "Resting on the Sabbath is an expression of our complete commitment to God. Our life is a measure of time and the way we spend it is indicative of where our interests lie. We have no time for those toward whom we feel indifferent, but we make time for those whom we love. To be able to withdraw on the seventh day from the world of things to meet the invisible God in the quiet of our souls, means to love God totally."]

APPENDIX - Paul and the Sabbath
The Traditional Interpretation of Colossians 2:16-17
The Colossian Heresy
What Was Nailed To The Cross?
Paul's Attitude Toward the Sabbath
   Nature of regulations
   Practices or principle?
   The Sabbath in Colossians 2:16
   The Sabbath in Romans and Galatians


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