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*Free: “Honoring of the Sabbath in the Historic Orthodox Church” booklet

The Eastern and Western Orthodox Church Have Kept Sabbath on Saturday (the 7th day of the week)

–Table of Contents–



 – The Early Orthodox Church Held Onto Sabbath – 

  – The Great Schism of 1054 AD between the Eastern Orthodox and the Western Papists – 

 – Orthodox Sabbath-keeping Historically Taught to be Saturday – 

 – 19th Century Mistranslations of the Didache and other letters about “Lord’s Day” – 

Orthodox Doctrine of Wednesday Crucifixion – Sabbath Resurrection – 

– Church Fathers Indicate A Unity in Faith Prevailed – 

 – Apostolic Constitutions – 

 – The British Orthodox Church – 

 – The Culdees, Not Connected to Rome, Protected the Sabbath – 

 – Orthodox Churches Today Teaching Sabbath-keeping on Saturday – 

  – The Sabbath of YAHWEH, A Biblical Sign That We Are His People – 


The purpose of this article is to show that while the people have been blind, God is still true to His promises to His covenant people.

While the official Orthodox doctrine remains that Saturday is the Sabbath and must be kept holy, most churches have drifted to put more emphasis on Sunday. The Saturday Sabbath does however remain mentioned as a requirement within the teachings in each branch of the Orthodox faith. Very few these days have emphasis on Saturday, for example the Armenians and Copts in Jerusalem, the Celtic and Gothian churches. These still keep Saturday in the Christian Orthodox way, the same way it has always been kept holy and above the other days of the week. The Apostles’ Didascalaia that is followed as canonical by several branches of the church today prescribes the keeping of Saturday above Sunday in fine detail.

This isn’t exclusive to the Eastern Orthodox Churches. Quoting numerous authorities, you will find at the heart of the Great Schism breakaway of the Western church, was this Sabbath point. Still today, the Orthodox texts of the Anglican and Episcopal Church retain a weekly recital of the Saturday Collects which confirm the teaching that we must abstain from work on Saturdays. This legacy was handed down from the British Orthodox Church. While the Book of Common Prayer leaves it up to the local bishops to decide which days to keep holy.  This text and liturgy of the B.C.P. was kept within all the subsequent branches of the Church, even the most non-conformist and dissenter churches kept the Orthodox text of the B.C.P. from 1549 until the 1960’s in a far-reaching unity. Dozens of these points have been forgotten. The points need not only to be brought out and demonstrated, but to be put to use in our daily lives as our forefathers have before us. Having this understanding behind what we do, is just another compliment that we are going forward as our King Jesus had told us.

This booklet will be an encouragement to those who already keep Sabbath, and will advance those who are still unsure of making the complete switch to Sabbath within an Orthodox assembly. Herein is demonstrated that for many centuries the Sabbath was celebrated more fully on Saturday. The Seventh day Sabbath was well known throughout every city and practiced in nearly every home of Christendom.

For many of the assemblies today, the Orthodox Clergy claim that each home must follow the Sabbath and all the commandments. It is a presumption that we will turn our lives away from sin and live more in accordance with His laws. This is recited several times daily, for each home that has the common prayer books. These points are basic within the catechism and conversion texts recited at baptism and confirmation.

While non-believers and apostates may not know of this, even the newest of converts will be well aware. All truly Orthodox Priests have protocols that ensures the new convert is guided through their stages of growth to become one of the faithful. For those who are visiting new assemblies they weren’t converted in, they may ask for a reference, or proof from a Godparent who ie “established as one of the faithful”. Only with such proof that one of the faithful who knows them well, have given their blessing, is such visitor given opportunity to partake of the communion. Without such proof that the visitor has understood the texts of all such conversion material in becoming a Christian, they will be carefully excluded from such parts of the services and/or Eucharist. Surely most of our Grandparents have handed us down that we should keep the commandments. This assures most assemblies that the original faith is present in the life of the new congregant. These are just some of such prerequisites that are basic to nearly any church that claims to follow the original Orthodox faith. Guarding the communion table is something that all branches of Christianity follow, to ensure that all sins have been confessed and repented from or else the whole assembly can be punished. However, these days there has become too much confidence placed in the parents, the Elders, and the false imposed government leaders to have properly instructed the younger generations in God’s commandments.

God still has provided all the evidences that one might need to provide for Sabbath keeping on a national scale. It’s the norm in every Christian nation that Saturday is part of the weekend and not a working day. In any ceremony it is at least mentioned we must repent of all sins, which includes Sabbath breaking. The Ten Commandments are recited at the Eucharist in most liturgies.

In any orthodox service we make a pledge to begin keeping the Sabbath more fully from this day forward. Some have kept their Christianity in dormancy until now. This booklet is written for the edification and hope that the Sabbath will be the ultimate fulfilment of Christ’s work of salvation in your life. Christ is called the Sovereign of the Sabbath, and Almighty God who changeth not. The “new Testament” is the same laws of God now written on our heart (or our delight).

The Saturday Sabbath may not be as popular as it once was, but it is prophesied to make a comeback among Orthodox Christians. The adhearance to His Kingdom laws will reach heights only dreamed of in the first century. He is coming back for a church that is without spot or wrinkle, and to a “bride who hath made herself ready” for the wedding.



In previous articles I have highlighted how Sabbath keeping has been prevalent in numerous Western church branches (under heavy persecution). However this article will demonstrate how the Seventh Day, Saturday, was the norm at various epicenters of the Eastern Orthodox faith, such as at Constantinople, and has continued to be a prominent Orthodox teaching up unto today.

In this booklet I also demonstrate from several local and mainstream Orthodox Church publications, that they officially declare Saturday(7th day Sabbath) is a holy festival day above the other days of the week.

Some Protestants have misquoted the small local church council of Laodicea as having been the authority that Catholics have used to change the Sabbath to Sunday. However that is a very careless assumption. It takes just a small check to confirm that the smaller council of Laodecia was never universally accepted among Roman Western Catholics nor the Eastern Orthodox. It is not even included as one of the Seven Ecumenical Councils. The local Laodecian council was held in a time of war with much political upheaval. However even within the text of the canons decided there, it also specifies and endorses Saturday Sabbath observance. To leave out some parts of the council while only quoting the ones which appear to end the Sabbath is pure zealotry (stemming from a fringe part of the heretical hippie adventist church of Mrs(divorced woman) Ellen G White’s cult) and not of scholarship.

Most Orthodox do not even embrace five out of the seven ecumenical councils. So even if one of the big seven ecumenical council disregarded Sabbath it would still be a moot point. All responsibility has been passed on to the local diocese. Much of the Orthodox world typically claims only to adhere to three of the ecumenical councils. Like many liturgies, the English Liturgy (BCP), contains a text in the Preface that all ceremonial and festal day celebrations that differ for each local congregation. If there is any question also that these can be asked of the Bishop or Archbishop for clarifications. However often the local celebrations even among the Anglican Church will be administered upon discretion and availability of the local priests. There is always much autonomy provided for, and responsibility assumed,  for each local diocese that administers the Sacraments to the people.

Some others will cite a mistranslation of the Seventh Ecumenical Council (or Second council of Nicea) which also was strongly politically motivated. However even these canons do not outright reject the Sabbath of God. It merely says that new converts who don’t fully convert from the heart, but go in secret keeping Jewish traditions should be excluded from the church. However the council still regarded Sabbath a Holy day. It was just teaching that there needs to be full communion of its members, not only part way. In this council it highlighted that new converts who were visibly not fully converted from the heart, that they should go back to their other religion (i.e. Judaism) and be fully openly Jews.

Those who say that Rome had changed the Sabbath for the whole world are totally misinformed. For the proof, just read the canons of the Council of Trullo. There they confirmed in five canons, four directly, that the Sabbath (Saturday) remained a feast day for the Church.

One may also find that the liturgical services on the Saturday Sabbath are exhaustive enough to demonstrate that the full Sabbath was kept and continues to be kept in the East and in the West. The Byzantine and Syriac rites of Orthodoxy claim the “Constitutions of the Holy Apostles(Didascalia)” to be the basis of their liturgy. I will quote the Saturday Sabbath references from these texts. These serve as numerous affirmations Sabbath keeping has remaind assumed within the Orthodox church overall (East and West).

Most of the Orthodox do claim to follow Orthodox principles of Sabbath keeping in one way or another, on Saturday.

Many others have embraced anti-Semitism as the basis for rejecting the Sabbath. Simply because they don’t want what is Jewish, and for this zeal they refuse to be scholarly on the topic. This would be at least irresponsible for any Christian.

We find in the Scriptures and history that the Christian nations do fulfill all the definitions, prophecies and identifications of God’s true Israel. So there again is a moot point for rejecting the Sabbath based on anti-Semitism, when actually we are all Semitic! The true Israel has always had a remnant who keep the Sabbath. God foretold that He would  preserved the Sabbath as a national sign that we are His people throughout every generation(Exodus 31:13). This has been preserved in Christian nations in the term “weekend”. We all know that weekends are not the typical work days. Minus a few professions, they all agree. However, the word “weekday” in many languages is translated just as “workday”. This should suffice it to show that God has kept His promise of this national sign of His people. We all have the national prosperity and freedom to keep it. As Saint Paul had written the Sabbath rest has remained for the people of God. (Hebrews 4:9)

Thousands of books on Israel Identity are widely available which prove that the descendants of the true Israel of God are the Christian nations. This is proven historically, genetically, and with numerous proofs of the royal, covenantal, and spiritual promises of God that are fulfilled only among the Christian nations. Please subscribe to the Anglo Israel book Club for more information on True Israel.


The Early Orthodox Church Held Onto Sabbath

We don’t see any abandonment of Saturday as a feast anywhere in the early orthodox church history. In the 5th Century, some of the most educated (Sozomen and Socrates Scholasticus) tell us that “on Sabbath” the churches meet together for communion, but that in Rome and Alexandria they have ceased to do this.

It is the unanimous opinion that the church did not ban or limit the Saturday Sabbath in any way, up through the first 6 ecumenical councils. There was no mention of banning the Sabbath worship on Saturday. According to the authentic copies of the Apostle’s Didascalia, Saturday was still a mandatory day of assembling for worship in the church. There became a debate much later from Rome, about having a fast once in the year that also lands on the Biblical Saturday Sabbath. This was fiercely debated nearly everywhere else, in order to keep the Sabbath feast unto God.

Many hints of the popularity of Sabbath keeping is found in the writings of early church fathers. As we may glean off of the following several quotes, Sabbath keeping was highly prevalent around the highest times of the Eastern church. The early church fathers continually substantiate the position recorded in the Didascalia, that the 7th day Sabbath is an official day of worship. There really wasn’t any theologian from this period or for the next several centuries that ever claimed God’s Sabbath was ever abolished. However some have merely argued to “include” Sunday as the 8th day, but never to replace the 7th Day. However, the theology still remained that e rose on the 7th day, not Sunday.  As Christ said that He would only be dead for 72 hours. Meaning He would have risen at the same time of the day (evening) when He died (not midnight, and definitely not in the morning). Most people know that a Friday crucifixion is non-existent in the Bible, and good Friday is only a tradition of men. The day of preparation for the feast mentioned in the Scriptures was on the Wednesday.

Out of the dozens of Early Church fathers, just a handful of them wrote in favor of the 1st Day (Sunday) to be celebrated over and above the 7th Day (Saturday) Sabbath. It wasn’t until the seventh ecumenical council that there was any formal and real collective speaking out against celebrating the Sabbath in the Jewish way. That didn’t still forbid keeping Sabbath according to the many liturgies like the Apostles Didascalia.

Here are some small examples of quotes from several of the Early Church Fathers who remained consistent with the Apostolic Doctrine to keep the Sabbath holy.


+Saint James, the Holy Apostle, The first Bishop of Jerusalem

As first Bishop of Jerusalem, he has been considered first Bishop of the church. His liturgy, the liturgy of Saint James has been re-iterated as the liturgy of Saint Basil. In it, on the great holy Sabbath it is declared

“For this is the blessed Sabbath, this is the day of rest.”

In Tone 6

Glory….“And God blessed the seventh day.”
For this is the blessed Sabbath, this is the day of rest,
on which the only-begotten Son of God rested from all His works.
Suffering death in accordance with the plans of salvation,
He kept the Sabbath in the flesh;
and returning once again to what He was,
through His Resurrection He has granted us eternal life,
for He alone is good and loves mankind.”

(Liturgy of Saint James and Saint Basil)


Saint Aristobulus, The first Bishop of Britain, and assistant of +Saint Andrew, the Holy Apostle in several quotes of him, it is demonstrated that he not only promoted the Sabbath for the House of Judah, but also the the Scythian (and Gothic Cimmerian) Israelites in dispersion (also called the Heathen Tribes of Abraham).

“Homer and Hesiod let us know, what they learned out of our books, that the seventh day was a holy day..”

” … The seventh day is also a day illuminated by the Sun &.. All things were made by sevens in the starry heaven; and go round in circles in all the years succeeding one another. ”

(Eusebius’s Praep. Evang. 13:12,13)


Saint Origen, the Early Church Father (184/185 – 253/254) advocated Sabbath-keeping:


In one of his homilies he wrote “After the festival of the unceasing sacrifice [the crucifixion] is put the second festival of the Sabbath, and it is fitting for whoever is righteous among the saints to keep also the festival of the Sabbath. There remaineth therefore a sabbatismus, that is, a keeping of the Sabbath, to the people of God [Hebrews 4:9]” (Homily on Numbers 23, para. 4, in Migne, Patrologia Græca, Vol. 12, cols. 749, 750).






Bishop Iraenus of Lyons wrote “The Lord…did not make void, but fulfilled the law, by performing the offices of the high priest…justifying His disciples by the words of the law, and pointing out that it was lawful for the priests to act freely [Mt 12:5]. For David had been appointed a priest by God, although Saul still persecuted him. For all the righteous possess the sacerdotal rank. And all the apostles of the Lord are priests.” and “The Sabbaths taught that we should continue day by day in God’s service…ministering continually to our faith, and persevering in it, and abstaining from all avarice, and not acquiring or possessing treasures upon earth. Moreover, the Sabbath of God, that is, the kingdom, was, as it were, indicated by created things; in which [kingdom], the man who shall have persevered in serving God shall, in a state of rest, partake of God’s table.”

  1. ‘Macarius’ of Syria is cited by Aelred Baker (‘Pseudo-Macarius and the Gospel of Thomas,’ p. 220) thusly: ‘For the soul that is considered worthy from the shameful and foul reflections keeps the sabbath a true sabbath and rests a true rest. . . . To all the souls that obey and come he gives rest from these . . . impure reflections . . ., (the souls) keeping the sabbath a true sabbath.’


“The Apostolic Constitutions” or “Didascalia” (written in circa 250AD) spelled out that the Sabbath (7th day) and Sunday (1st day) both were festal days where we must neither fast, nor work, but is a day of celebration at with local assembly.


Polycarp, the second century Bishop of Smyrna taught the feast days and the Sabbath. In the “Vita Polycarpi”(3rd Century), the Christian community of Vita Polycarpi is demonstrated to have been keeping the Saturday Sabbath in the same manner the Jews do. They gathered for Biblical instruction and to celebrate Sabbath as a feast day with their brethren. Polycarp (died circa 156AD) and wrote in favor of keeping the Biblical seventh day Sabbath, Passover, the Days of Unleavened Bread, Pentecost, and the Last Great Day of the Feast of Tabernacles.


The Second Century Bishop Polycrates of Ephesus was spokesman for the whole of Asia Minor, and indicates his synod of Bishops convened for the purpose of defending the literal celebration of the Hebrew festivals. In his letter to the Roman Bishop Victor, he earnestly defended all the old testament aspects of keeping Passover, including removing leaven out of your house etc. In the letter he names his succession as the 8th Bishop since the Apostle John. He expressed his willingness to disobey the external pressures to change the observance of God’s festivals against Rome’s re-arranged festival  days. His letter is very telling, and I suggest any get a copy of it. It can be found on-line, as was copied originally by Eusebius, and is in “The History of the Church, Book V, Chapter XXIV”,Verses 2-7 . Translated by A. Cushman McGiffert. Digireads.com or in Wikipedia.

The letter enraged Pope Victor and made him excommunicate him and all Bishops of Asia Minor from the Roman communion.

However history demonstrates that the next several centuries Asia-Minor continued to follow the Hebrew festivals rather than Rome’s pagan festivals.


3rd-4th Century Saint and Bishop Methodius of Olympus declared: “For since in six days God made the heaven and the earth, and finished the whole world, and rested on the seventh day from all His works which He had made, and blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, so by a figure in the seventh month…, the great resurrection-day, it is commanded that the Feast of our Tabernacles shall be celebrated to the Lord…” (Methodius. Banquet of the Ten Virgins (Discourse 9, Chapter 1). Translated by William R. Clark.From Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 6. Edited by Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Coxe. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co.,1886.) Revised and edited for New Advent by Kevin Knight. http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/062309.htm.


Bishop Eusebius the historian spoke of  the“Ebionites” in no condescending manner:  “they observe the Sabbath and the rest of the Jewish ceremonial, but on Sunday celebrated rites like ours in commemoration of the Saviour’s resurrection.”

While yet Eusebius (and all Western and Eastern Orthodox) kept Saturday in the Christian ceremonial. The Ebionites still used the Jewish traditional liturgy that was still officially used only for the synagoges.

Note these specific prayers on Saturday only done in Jewish churches, were not condemned until about 400 years later in the 7th Ecumenical Council. In those cases it also only said let them remain a Hebrew openly, and with their full heart. These specificconverts who were Jews were not fully from the heart converting. So the legislation of the council banned new-convert Jews from the Christian baptism etc if they couldn’t show they were fully converted. As it says many were still observing the Jewish practices in secret, while being a hypocrite attending the Orthodox Saturday (and Sunday) churches.

His commentary on the 92nd Psalm has been mistranslated, grossly excerpted, taken out of context and misquoted about doing the same duties of Sabbath on the First day of the week. Some have even stretched it so far as to calling it a decree of making Sabbath replaced by Sunday. However, he says no such thing.

He said on Resurrection day we should meet very early before it is light, to do the ceremonies we are accustomed to and which were performed according to the law. As Christ and the priests called it the “remembrance offering”, the “bread of God”, etc.

He does talk about spiritual fulfillment in the Resurrection, the New Creation in Christ who had His first morning Temple service time at the dawn time (a service followed by orthodox of Hebrew and Christian backgrounds. Anglicans call it Mattinis). The time the Hebrew priests offered the bread and wine and incense according to the law. Including on Sabbath these things were offered.

(Eusebius, Commentary on the Psalms, in Migne, Patrologia Graeca, Vol. 23, cols. 1171, 1172. Online better Greek texts: http://www.roger-pearse.com/weblog/2009/10/10/a-stray-quotation-from-eusebius-commentary-on-the-psalms/ )

Now in Malachi it speaks of us giving “every morning” in “every place” offering the pure offering and incense.

In AD 324 Eusebius said: ” I think that he [the Psalmist] describes the morning assemblies in which we are accustomed to assemble throughout the world.” “By this is prophetically signified the service which is performed very early and every morning of the resurrection day throughout the whole world.” (Sabbath Manual, p. 126)


Pliny’s Letter, A.D. 107  These statements about such early rising by Eusebius are brought more to light with background of others such as Pliny. Pliny was governor of Bithynia, Asia Minor, A.D. 106-108. He wrote A.D. 107 to Trajan, the emperor, concerning the Christians, thus: “They were wont to meet together, on a stated day before it was light, and sing among themselves alternately a hymn to Christ as God. . . . When these things were performed, it was their custom to separate and then to come together again to a meal which they ate in common without any disorder” (Horne’s” Introduction,” Vol. I, Chap. iii, Sec. 2, p. 84. 129). 


Socrates Scholasticus (fifth century) claimed: “For although almost all churches throughout the world celebrate the sacred mysteries [the Lord’s Supper] on the Sabbath [Saturday] of every week, yet the Christians of Alexandria and at Rome, on account of some ancient tradition, have ceased to do this.


Sozomen (fifth century) similarly acknowledged: “Assemblies are not held in all churches on the same time or manner. The people of Constantinople, and almost everywhere, assemble together on the Sabbath, as well as on the first day of the week, which custom is never observed at Rome or at Alexandria.”


Saint Apollinaris, Bishop of Hierapolisalso wrote in favor of the Biblical Hebrew festival dates, rather than the newer Roman (or older pagan re-instituted) days.


Erius who succeeded Eustathius In Armenia “..urged a purer morality and a stricter observance of the Sabbath” (Davis, Tamar. A General History of the Sabbatarian Churches.) 1851; Reprinted 1995 by Commonwealth Publishing, Salt Lake City, p. 20).


St. Photios the Great “The first error of Westerners is their fasting on Saturdays.” This is a very important statement, as he is well known as the forerunner for the “Great Schism.” His schism was dubbed “Photian schism”. (Excerpt from The Encyclical Letter of Saint Photius (867))


Patriarch Michael I Cerularius Concluding the Great Schism of 1054, Patriarch Michael said: “we are commanded to honor the Sabbath, to keep it and not to work on it.” (Migne, Patrologia Latina, vol. 143)


“The Great Schism of 1054 AD” between the Eastern Orthodox and the Western Papists

Many have been kept ignorant of the actual schism texts that marked the purposes of the final split between the Eastern and Western churches. The largest, longest debated and primary issue of the schism texts has been the topic of keeping the Sabbath holy. This had remained an issue for about 1,000 years. The Council of Trullo confirmed in five canons, four directly, that the Sabbath (Saturday) remained a feast day, as it says in the Constitutions of the Apostles (Didascalia). The issue of the Sabbath was nothing new, but it had remained an issue of importance in the Orthodox church.

The three main Schism letters from the Patriarch of Constantinople, and his representative Archbishop Leo of Achrida were focused primarily on keeping the Sabbath holy, and not turning it into a day of fasting or of work. These included the decrees of earlier church councils that we shouldn’t fast on Sabbaths which occur during Lent.

There were several replies by the Pope Leo IX primarily reverting to slander against Constantinople and exerting primacy of Rome (which the east never fully recognized). He said he had a right to enforce the fasting on Sabbath across all the lands of Christendom (East and West). However the Eastern (Orthodox) church maintained the same position in all of the replies. Before, during and after the breakup, the church affirmed that they cannot and will not relent on the Sabbath commandment, in order to appease Rome. Rome had long been trying to sneak in a breaking of the Sabbath in regards to keeping Lent (when it lands on the Sabbath). However, again the Eastern Church reiterated it’s claim since the first century, and in every century, the official doctrine to not fast on the Sabbath.

I recommend a detailed analysis which demonstrates that Sabbath keeping was the reason of the Great Schism, from the Seminary of Newbold College UK, and Published by Andrews University Seminary Studies, Vol. 49, No. 2, 337-352. You can find a link to this study in our archive at:  http://christsassembly.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/Fasting-Sabbath-great-schism-controversy-ENGLISH.pdf

Highlights from in this analysis are as follows:

·         In 1042 Monamachos was inagurated as King of Byzantium, and in 1043 as Patriarch of the Eastern church. At that time in Rome, Pope Leo IX believed that he inherited absolute power over all Christian people and institutions from Peter himself.

·         The Great Schism began with an open letter written by the Bishops Leo and Michael Ceralarius of the Eastern church, to Bishop John of Trani of the Western church in southern Italy. It was addressed, received and replied to several times by several Bishops. This letter as was written originally by Eastern aligned Bishops and Archbishops. In the last replies they called the Pope “brother” rather than “most holy father” or “reverend Pope”. However the first letter was addressed, “to all the chief priests, and the priests of the Franks, and the monks, and the peoples, and to the most reverend Pope himself.”

·         The two biggest issues in the letter were on Sabbath not being a day of fasting, but a festal day, and on Rome’s use of unleavened bread for the Eucharist.

·         Pope Leo IX in his letter accused Constantinople of historically being the source of heresy. He claimed in emphatic terms that the Bishop of Rome held primacy even over the Constantinople. However, the response of Patriarch Michael of Constantinople in 1054, initiated the events which followed, because Constantinople claimed the title “ecumenical Patriarch”. Patriarch Michael addressed Pope Leo as “brother” rather than “father.” Pope Leo IX sent Cardinal Humbert of Silva Candida on a legatine mission to treat with the Patriarch. Cerularius refused to meet with Cardinal Humbert and kept him waiting with no audience for months.

·         Thus, Cardinal Humbert of Silva Candida delivered a notice of excommunication against Patriarch Michael on July 16, 1054, despite the death of Pope Leo three months prior and thus the invalidity of the excommunication. Patriarch Michael Cerularius in turn excommunicated the Cardinal and the Pope and subsequently removed the Pope’s name from the diptychs, starting the East-West Schism. So technically, while the East didn’t issue an “anthema” against Rome first, the East formally excommunicated the West first.

·         While the Pope’s responses were about his authority, Constantinople wanted to follow the word of God. In the exchanges, Pope Leo XI said that a donation of the Patriarch of Constantinople proved that “the Holy See possessed both an earthly and a heavenly imperiam, the royal priesthood”. He said that “only the apostolic successor to Peter possessed primacy in the Church.” These can be read in the Migne, Patrologia Latina, vol. 143, pgs. 744-769. However, the Eastern church primarily claims to be successors of Saint Andrew(the first Apostole) and of Saint John, of which there is much tradition. Our great  God of Israel provided that the Pope died before his anathema could be read, and the more righteous Patriarch Michael lived to have his read and declared. Let us look at this text.

·         There was a triumph for truth as Patriarch Michael in 1054, reaffirmed his stance with the following declaration, that Christians are “commanded to honor the Sabbath . . . to keep [it] and not to work on it.” We hope this information encourages a return to this true spirit of Orthodoxy, and not to become relaxed on issues so big as the Ten Commandments.

We also read in the “The Schism Between the Oriental and Western Churches”, by Theologian George Howard of St Johns College, Cambridge Published 1892 that the original letter of Cerularius was clearly to establish closer ties with the Western Church. However the mentioning how the Roman church different from the Greek church primarily in the Western use of unleavened bread at the Eucharist, the seasonal fasting on the Sabbath (Saturday), the prohibition of clerical marriage, and the Dogma of the Procession from the Son. However, it evoked a response of rage rather than of doctrine. The anathema of Rome was declared against Cerularius, not for unorthodox doctrine, but for audacity in resisting the Petrine claims. (Pgs 34 and 37)

“Ambrose, when questioned on this point, replied that at Rome he was accustomed to fast on the Sabbath, but in Milan that he did not. Augustin rightly applies the rules given by Paul in the fourteenth chapter of the epistle to the Romans, to this diversity of practice. He complains that weak minds were disturbed by the controversial obstinacy or the superstitious scruples of many who would insist on that practice as being the only right one, for which they supposed they had found certain reasons, no matter how weak, or which they had brought with them as the ecclesiastical usage of their own country, or which they had seen in foreign lands, although neither the holy Scriptures nor the universal tradition of the church decided anything as to the point[like seasonal fasting at Lent etc], and although it was a matter of perfect indifference as to any practical advantage. But that rigid hierarchical spirit of the Roman church, which from a very early period required uniformity in things unessential..” (Cassian. institut. ccenobial. 1. III. c. 9 et 10. Hieronym. ep. 71 ad Lucinium, s. 6. As quoted by Neander in his “General History of the Christian Religion and Church the German” Page 442.)


Sabbath Keeping in the Fourth Century, Sabbath-keeping was highly prevalent


Various history sources show Sabbath continued to dominate in the East and West:

“Likewise some meet both upon the Sabbath and upon the day after the

Sabbath, as at Constantinople, and among almost all others [ie the Celtic Church]. At Rome and Alexandria they do not.” (Ecclesiastical History, in The Nicene and Post Nicene Fathers, Book 7, Chapter 19).

“The observance of the Sabbath among the Jewish Christians gradually ceased. Yet the Eastern Church to this day marks the seventh day of the week (excepting only the Easter Sabbath) by omitting fasting, and standing in prayer; the Latin Church, in direct opposition to Judaism, made Saturday a fast day. The controversy on this point began as early as the end of the second century.” (History of the Church, p.372, 1864 edition; p.205 1952 edition.)

“Christians were very careful in the observation of Saturday, or the seventh day, which was the ancient Jewish Sabbath… In the Eastern church it was ever observed as a festival… From hence it is plain, that all the Oriental[Eastern] churches, and the greatest part of the world, observed the Sabbath as a festival. And the Greek writers are unanimous in their testimony. The author of the Constitutions, who describes the customs chiefly of the Oriental [Eastern] church, frequently speaks of it…Athanasius likewise tells us, that they held religious assemblies on the Sabbath, not because they were infected with Judaism, but to worship Jesus the Lord of the Sabbath. Epiphanius says the same, that it was a day of public assembly in many churches, meaning the Oriental [Eastern] churches, where it was kept a festival” (Bingham J. Origines Ecclesiasticæ: The Antiquities of the Christian Church. With Two Sermons and Two Letters on the Nature and Necessity of Absolution. H. G. Bohn, 1856. Original from Harvard University Digitized Oct 19, 2006, pp. 1137-1138).


In Egypt it was clearly expressed in the Oxyrhynchus Papyri (circa 200-250AD), “Except ye make the Sabbath a real Sabbath [sabbatize the Sabbath, Greek], ye shall not see the father.” pt. L, p. 3, Logion 2, verse 4-11 (London: Offices of the Egypt Exploration Fund, 1898)…


In Spain, Canon 26 of the Council of Elvira (305AD) reveals that the Church of Spain at that time kept Saturday, the seventh day. “As to fasting every Sabbath: Resolved, that the error be corrected of fasting every Sabbath.” This resolution of the council is in direct opposition to the policy the church at Rome had inaugurated, that of commanding Sabbath as a fast day in order to humiliate it and make it repugnant to the people…”


Saint Aphrahat wrote in his Homilies “..it’s permissible to break the Sabbath, for instance, in time of war, as in the cases of Joshua and the Maccabees. Furthermore, Jews should not pride themselves in its observance; it does not give them any merits. However, the institution is nevertheless good, desired by God. If He rested, how much more should we! The Sabbath should be observed in God’s way, and for failure to do so properly, the Jews were scattered abroad.”
(Thirteenth Homily of Aphrahat 336-345).


Syrian Bishop Theodoret of Cyrrhus, an Early Church Father (c. 393-458), Regarding a trial of the heretic Arius, Theodoret wrote that both the Emperor Constantine and Bishop Alexander waited until after the Sabbath to admit Arius, to hear his languishing plea. Constantine waited till after Sabbath to hear the languishing plea of Arius.

Regarding the Ebionites He said they conduct their lives according to the law of Moses, they confess that the Saviour and Lord was born of a virgin. They use only the Gospel according to Matthew, and they honour the Sabbath according to the law of the Jews, and celebrate the Lord’s day very similarly to us.

(Book IV: About Arius and Book II: About Ebion the poor)



Bishop Asterius of Amasea of Pontus in Asia Minor (c. 400) says in one of his homilies: “It is beautiful to Christians and to the industrious that the team of these two days comes together; I speak of the Sabbath and the Lord’s day, which time in its course brings around weekly. For as mothers and nurses of the church they gather the people, set over them priests as instructors, and lead both disciples and teachers to have a care for souls.”

(Asterius of Amasea, Homily 5, on Matt. 19:3, in MPG, Vo. 40 col. 225. Greek.)


In the Homilies of Saint Jerome (a 4th-5th Century theologian) it is demonstrated that in his times, Sabbath observance (Saturday) was wholly expected. Homily 21 on Psalm 92 we read, “The Ninety-first Psalm is inscribe with the title: ‘A psalm; a song for the Sabbath day.’ There could be no Sabbath day without six preceding days. We work for six days, on the seventh day we rest. We cannot sing to the Lord, therefore, save on the day of the Sabbath. As long as we are engaged in the works of the world, that is, for the six days, we cannot sing to the Lord. Leviticus says: ‘On the Sabbath day you shall do no servile work.’ No one, therefore on the day of the Sabbath and on the day of the Lord’s rest may do servile work—work pertaining to this world; but he ought to do the work that belongs to the Sabbath. Would you know that on the Sabbath the priests work in the temple of the Lord? It is not permitted anyone to cut wood on the Sabbath; in fact, the man who was discovered gathering wood in the wilderness was stoned to death. Neither may one even kindle a fire nor do any kind of work.

You will observe, however, that all the things that the layman is not allowed to do on the Sabbath, the priests alone are permitted to do, for they cut wood, enkindle a fire, and perform other services, and immolate victims. Why am I making such a point of this? To show you that it is written in the law that we must withdraw from all worldly pursuits on the Sabbath and perform only those works that pertain to God. A psalm, therefore, is a song on the Sabbath day when we do not work for the world, but for God. Let us see now what we must sing on the Sabbath when we are abstaining from the works of the world. ……. [He then breaks down verse by verse, the entire Psalm 92.]

(From Homilies of Saint Jerome, Volume 1: 1-59 on the Psalms)


Also around 404 A.D. St. Jerome wrote: “…the believing Jews do well in observing the precepts of the law, i.e. …keeping the Jewish Sabbath…there exists a sect among (…) the synagogues of the East, which is called the sect of the Minei, and is even now condemned by the Pharisees. The adherents to this sect are known commonly as Nazarenes; they believe in Christ the Son of God, born of  the Virgin Mary; and they say that He who suffered under Pontius Pilate and rose again, is the same as the one in whom we believe” (Jerome. Translated by J.G. Cunningham, M.A. From Jerome to Augustine (A.D. 404); LETTER 75 (AUGUSTINE) OR 112 (JEROME). Excerpted from Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Series One, Volume 1. Edited by Philip Schaff, D.D., LL.D. American Edition, 1887. Online Edition Copyright © 2004 by K. Knight).


In Persia (circa 335-375) it is written, “They despise our sun god. Did not Zoroaster, the sainted founder of our divine beliefs, institute Sunday one thousand years ago in honor of the sun and supplant the Sabbath of the Old Testament. Yet these Christians have divine services on Saturday.”

(O’Leary, The Syriac Church and Fathers, pp. 83, 84.)


Efforts to write against Sabbath keeping well after the Fourth Century show that it was still quite popular in the Eastern church:

 In the Catechetical Lectures of St. Cyril of Jerusalem, we see the Sabbath was a common doctrine, though he seems to be teaching people not to be so strict about it. Here are quotes from this topic:

“And if ever thou hear any of the heretics speaking evil of the Law or the Prophets, answer in the sound of the Saviour’s voice, saying, Jesus came not to destroy the Law, but to fulfil it.

“…Keep away from all sabbathical observances(this Greek word for observances is “paratēreō” which in the Bible is always in a negative context of fault finding. It is also used for when they looked for ways to kill Jesus. The Greek dictionary defines the word as “observe scrupulously”.),…”

(From Catechetical Lectures, iv. 33-37, about A.D. 350. Also as found by Bagatti, Bellarmino. Translated by Eugene Hoade. The Church from the Circumcision. Nihil obstat: Marcus Adinolfi, 13 Maii 1970. Imprimi potest: Herminius Roncari, 14 Junii 1970. Imprimatur: +Albertus Gori, die 26 Junii 1970. Franciscan Printing Press, Jerusalem, 1971, p. 89).

 John Chrystosom in his “Eight Homilies Against the Jews” wrote that there are “many in our ranks” who think alike about the Hebrew feasts and sabbaths, and they observe and keep them together with the Jews.

While these writings can be interpreted as somewhat in the negative, all of them demonstrate that Sabbath keeping was not uncommon, but it was prevalent.

In those days, we can clearly see that the Saturday Sabbath was fully expected and celebrated. Even the Seventh Ecumenical Council was clearly on the point of new Hebrew converts, who do not fully from the heart convert, must be excluded. Sabbath was not the reason for excluding, nor were the other Jewish customs mentioned. It was highlighted that if a person is to join a church they shouldn’t do so grudgingly but with the whole heart.


19th Century Mistranslations of the Didache and other letters about “Lord’s Day”


The Didache, Ignatius, and the Sabbath

By Dr. Bob Thiel https://www.cogwriter.com/

Some people, on the internet and elsewhere, have pointed to some basically 19th century translations of certain ancient documents in an attempt to support their contention that Sunday was observed early on by the original Christians.

The Didache is an ancient letter that may have been written near the time of the Apostle John’s death. Many consider it to contain the earliest indirect reference to Sunday worship by Christians.

Ignatius was an early leader in Antioch who apparently knew some of the apostles, as well as Polycarp the Bishop (or Pastor) in Smyrna (a part of Asia Minor).  One of Ignatius’ writings, called his Letter to the Magnesians, is often cited as proof that Sunday was observed by early Christians. But is that what he really he was teaching?

The late French Cardinal Jean-Guenole-Marie Danielou is amongst those that have claimed that Sunday observance by Christians is supported by the Didache and Ignatius’ Letter to the Magnesians [1].

But, do either of these documents support the observance of Sunday?

This article will discuss some of these writings and will include some of the original Greek to demonstrate what the early writings actually teach.

Early Writings

Before getting to those writings, there are two that perhaps should be mentioned first.

The first is the alleged Epistle of Barnabas. This anonymous document is sometimes cited as proof for Sunday worship, but scholars do not believe that Barnabas wrote it [2]. It is not a truly “Christian” writing. It essentially claims God wanted the ‘eighth day’ instead of the seventh-day Sabbath in the Book of Isaiah (even though terms for eight or eighth are never mentioned in Isaiah).  Like some other heretical writings, it relies heavily on allegory to interpret the Bible.

There is also a quote allegedly from Ignatius’ Letter to the Trallians. However this “quote” is from verse 9 in the ‘longer version’ of that letter, which scholars discount as not authentic–it was lengthened much later by someone else—the shorter version, whose authenticity is widely accepted, says nothing about “the Lord’s Day” [3].

The Didache

The Didache has been cited as the earliest non-scriptural “proof” of Sunday worship by those who profess Christ [4], although it does not ever use the word Sunday nor the expression ‘first day of the week.’

However, verse 14.1 is often cited as proof of Sunday observance by promoters of Sunday observance.

The Greek expression in verse 14.1 in the Didache, is:

Κατὰ κυριακὴν δε κυριου [5].

The Greek term κυριακὴν is often transliterated as kuriaki/kyriake.

Here is something from a Catholic priest and scholar on the meaning of κυριακὴν:

… the Greek kyriake, meaning “belonging to the Lord (kyrios),” from which the English word “church” is derived. [6]

Basically kuriaki means the Lord’s way.

I believe I have translated verse 14.1 in the Didache, properly below (with two options):

According to the Lord’s way, even the Lord’s.


According to the Lordly {way}, even the Lord’s.

However, it has normally been incorrectly translated by many Protestant scholars. Here are two examples:

“On the Lord’s day of the Lord,” by Kirsopp Lake [7].

“But every Lord’s day,” by Hall and Napier [8].

There are at least two reasons that the above by Lake, as well as Hall & Napier, can be shown to be mistranslated.

The first is that the translators should have realized that the Greek term for “day” (ἡμέρᾳ) is missing in verse 14.1 [9] and is not required by the context.

The second is how each of them began the translation of this particular verse. The beginning in both translations is in error and is inconsistent with the translators other translations in this letter.

The Greek word translated in verse 14.1 as “On the” by Kirsopp Lake and “But every” by Hall and Napier (Κατὰ) truly does mean “According to” as I have translated it. Κατα should not be translated as “On the” or “But every.”

The Greek word Κατὰ is translated as “according to” by Kirsopp Lake five times (1.5, 11.3, 12.4, 13.5, and 13.7 [10]) and “with respect” one time (4.10). The other times Lake used the term “on” (verses 1.4, 7.3, 8.1a, 8.1b, 11.12, 16.8 [11]), it was NOT a translation from the Greek term Κατὰ.

Also the one time the Didache uses “on” with a day (which is in the translations of both Lake and Hall/Napier), it does not use Κατὰ, but it does include the Greek term for day (verse 8.1b) [12].

It may be of interest to note that in the KJV New Testament, Κατα is translated as “according to” approximately 110 times, and the only time (Acts 8:36) it is inaccurately translated as “on” it is not translated as “on” in the NKJV or NIV.

Hall and Napier translated Κατὰ as “according to” the six other times it is translated that SAME letter (see verses 1.5, 4.10, 11.3, 12.4, 13.5, and 13.7 [13]) and never translated it as “But every.” The one other time Hall and Napier used the term “But every” (verse 13.1) while translating the Didache it is not translated from the term Κατὰ [14]. Also, it may be of interest to note that the KJV never translated Κατὰ as “but every.”

Hence it appears that several translators intentionally exercised bias when translating verse 14.1.

The context of this portion of the Didache suggests that it may be referring to the Christian Passover (compare with I Corinthians 22:23-29) or some other gathering (compare with Acts 2:42), but only a forced and inaccurate translation would suggest Sunday (which is what many Sunday advocates suggest). The belief that this refers to Passover is centuries old as F. Coneybeare reported it was a belief of the Paulini:

But the Paulini also keep the feast of the Pascha on the same day (as the Jews), whatever be the day of the full moon, they call it Kuriaki, as the Jews call it Sabbath, even though it be not a Sabbath. [15]

Since the Protestant translating scholars of the Didache did not observe an annual Christian Passover and tended to be Sunday observers, this may explain why they did not translate it literally.

Ignatius’ Letter to the Magnesians

The other major claim in favor of early Sunday worship is from Ignatius’ Letter to the Magnesians.

Here is what the Greek states:

Εί ούν οί έν παλαιοîς πράγμασιν άναστραφέντες είς καινότητα έλπίδος ήλθον, μηκέτι σαββατίζοντες, άλλά κατά κυριακήν ζώντες, έν ή καί ή ζωή ήμών άνέτειλεν δι’ αύτού καί τού θανάτου αύτού, <öν> τινες άρνούνται, δι’ ού μυστηρίου έλάβομεν τò πιστεύειν, καί διά τούτο ύπομένομεν, ïνα εύρεθώμεν μαθηταί ‘Iησού Χριστού τού μόνου διδασκάλου ήμών· [16]

Here is a fairly typical 19th Century translation of verse 9.1, by Dr. J.B. Lightfoot:

If then those who had walked in ancient practices attained unto newness of hope, no longer observing sabbaths but fashioning their lives after the Lord’s day, on which our life also arose through Him and through His death which some men deny — a mystery whereby we attained unto belief, and for this cause we endure patiently, that we may be found disciples of Jesus Christ our only teacher [17].

But is that correct?

It should be noted that the word for ‘day’ is not in the Greek text.

Interestingly, like Lake and Hall/Napier, Dr. Lightfoot also failed to translate Κατα, which is in the text [18] as “according to.” Yet, Lightfoot did translate Κατα as “according to” in three other places in this letter (verses 3.1,10.1, 13.2 [19]). He also failed to do so in his translation of the Didache, where he began verse 14.1 with “And on” [20]–an apparently intentional and improper translation as discussed above (Lightfoot translated κατά as “according to” five other times in the Didache [21]).

It is sad that these translators, all born in the 19th century, all decided to selectively change the meaning of a word.


Well, in order to support Sunday worship.

Yet, noted scholar Guy Fritz concluded that the text in Ignatius is too ambiguous to be used to support Sunday worship:

“in the study of the ‘Lord’s day’ in the early church … {it} cannot at the present time properly be introduced as evidence indicating its [Sunday] observance” [22].

The 19th century theologian John Kitto understood that neither the context nor the Greek required adding the word day.  Thus he translated a highly relevant part of it correctly as follows:

…living according to our Lord’s life…[23].

John Kitto also made the following comments about the passage from Ignatius:

Now many commentators assume (on what ground does not appear), that alter κυριακήν [Lord’s] the word ἡμέραν [day] is to be understood… The defect of the sentence is the want of a substantive to which άvroύ can refer. This defect, so far from being- remedied, is rendered still more glaring by the introduction of ἡμέραν…the passage does not refer at all to the Lord’s day…it cannot be regarded as affording any positive evidence to the early use of the term ‘Lord’s day’ (for which it is often cited), since the word ἡμέραν [day] is purely conjectual [24].

Yet, almost all anti-Sabbath websites I have visited have ignored the scholars that understand the truth about Ignatius’ writings as they cite the mistranslations as “proof” of early Sunday observance—even though the actual Greek text does no such thing.

While in Greece, I was able to verify that the word in koine Greek translated as “Lord’s Day” in both the Didache and the Letter to the Magnesians, κυριακὴν, could not be translated as “Lord’s Day” as the Greek word for day is not present in the texts nor required by the contexts for either.

In Ignatius’ Letter to the Magnesians, like in the Didache, κυριακὴν would be better translated as “Lord’s way” or combined with the Greek word that follows it , ζωντες [25] , “Lord’s way of life” or “Lord’s living.” This is also consistent with what Paul wrote:

When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory (Colossians 3:4, NKJV throughout unless otherwise noted).

Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1).

It was the custom of Jesus (e.g. Luke 4:16) and Paul to regularly keep the Sabbath (Acts 17:2). The Sabbath was part of the Lord’s way of life, and Paul imitated Christ that way. Understanding Jesus’ life is critical to understanding Ignatius.

Furthermore, to better understand Ignatius’ letter, we should look at more of the context and not just verse 9.1. out-of-context, as some Sunday advocates have.

A more literal (though not grammatical) translation of the relevant portion from Ignatius’ letter appears to be,

8.1 Be not seduced by strange doctrines nor by antiquated fables, which are profitless.
8.2  For if even unto this day we live according to the manner of Judaic concepts, we admit that we have not received grace: for the godly prophets lived after Christ Jesus. For this cause also they were persecuted, being inspired by His grace to the end that they which are disobedient might be fully persuaded that there is one God who manifested Himself through Jesus Christ His Son, who is His Word that proceeded from silence, who in all things was well-pleasing unto Him that sent Him.
9.1 If then those who had walked in ancient practices attained unto newness of hope, no longer keeping sabbaths contrariwise according to the Lord’s way of life, on which our life also arose through Him and through His death which some men deny – a mystery whereby we attained unto belief, and for this cause we endure patiently, that we may be found disciples of Jesus Christ our only teacher –
9.2 if this be so, how shall we be able to live apart from Him? Seeing that even the prophets, being His disciples, were expecting Him as their teacher through the Spirit. And for this cause He whom they rightly awaited, when He came, raised them from the dead.

According to a scholar of koine Greek who I consulted with (a non-Sabbathkeeper), the first portion of 9.1 would grammatically be better translated as:

“If then those who had walked in ancient practices attained unto newness of hope, no longer {Judaically} keeping sabbaths but according to the Lord’s way of life…” [26]

This is because she insisted that the term ‘but’ (or ‘contrariwise’ as translated earlier above) had to refer to the “Lord’s way” instead of the Sabbath.

There are at least two reasons for this. The first is that the godly prophets had been keeping the seventh day Sabbath. And the second is since the portion of the Greek term translated as the first part of “no longer” is a ‘qualified negative’ [27] the context supports that the ‘Judaic concepts’ (verse 8.2) are part of the qualification.  It may be of interest to note that the terms first, day, or Sun are not in the above passages.

She confirmed with me that this section is certainly speaking about the same ancient prophets throughout, hence since they actually kept the Sabbath (and not Sunday), she felt that the idea of Judaically would have had to been in Ignatius’ mind. And that this type of reference was required in English to properly understand what Ignatius was writing (and I also had this confirmed by others with a working knowledge of koine Greek).

This assessment is also consistent with later testimony from Jerome who mentioned that the Sabbath-keeping Christians he ran into did not adhere to the Jewish traditions–in other words, although they kept the Sabbath, the Nazarenes did not keep the Sabbath Judaically:

Jerome declares:

“On Isaiah 9:1-4

“The Nazarenes, whose opinion I have set forth above, try to explain this passage in the following way: When Christ came and his preaching shone out, the land of Zebulon and Naphtali [the region of Galilee] first of all were freed from the errors of the Scribes and Pharisees and he shook off their shoulders the very heavy yoke of the JEWISH TRADITIONS. Later, however, the preaching became more dominant, that means the preaching was multiplied, through the gospel of the apostle Paul who was the last of all the apostles. And the gospel of Christ shone to the most distant tribes and the way of the whole sea. Finally the whole world, which earlier walked or sat in darkness and was imprisoned in the bonds of idolatry and death, has seen the clear light of the gospel” (p.64).

In this passage, we find that the Nazarene Christians — like Yeshua the Messiah, Peter, James, John and especially Paul — rejected Jewish traditionalism, invention, and additions to the Torah or Old Testament. They referred to them as the “very heavy yoke of the Jewish traditions.” [28].

Thus, instead of proving Sunday and disproving the Sabbath, Ignatius (and indirectly even Jerome) seems to be warning against incorrectly observing the Sabbath as certain Pharisaical Jews insisted, with their antiquated fables. Or in other words, Ignatius was condemning the observance of traditions of men over the Bible.   (Ignatius also held views on the godhead that appear to differ from mainstream “Christianity,” please see the article Binitarian View).

Alfred Edersheim, a 19th century scholar, observed:

“In not less that twenty-four chapters {of the Mishna}, matters are seriously discussed {regarding Sabbath observance} as of vital religious importance, which one would scarcely imagine a sane intellect would serious entertain.” [29]

Note that these are mainly restrictions that are not found in the Bible (I have read many of these restrictions in the Mishna and they do seem to be absurd).  Jesus also taught that Pharisaical Jews had improper concepts about the Sabbath (e.g. Luke 13:10-17).

Dr. Noel Rude, a self-described “grammar-freak” and linguist, felt that perhaps the following would be even more grammatically correct for the first part of verse 9.1:

“If then those who had walked in ancient practices attained unto newness of hope, no longer (Judaically) keeping sabbaths but living according to the lordly way…”[30]

And that seems to be consistent with how I feel this verse should be translated.

Ignatius was teaching that the godly prophets, who lived in ancient times, lived in accordance to the ways of Jesus Christ, and not after improper Judaic concepts.

There is no doubt that the ancient prophets (such as Isaiah) kept the Sabbath on the day now known as Saturday.  Around 167 BC, which is after the Old Testament was written, the Pharisees rose up. One of the way they were distinguished from the Sadducees is that the Pharisees placed great value on what they termed the ‘oral law’–or as we might call it now, Jewish tradition–in order to attain type of ‘holiness’ [31]. In other words, the party of the Pharisees relied on traditions outside of the Bible–which is something Jesus condemned them for (Matthew 15:3-9).

The Bible records that the Old Testament prophets knew how to keep the Sabbath (and not Barnabas’ eighth day) properly, as a delight for them to be in the LORD (e.g. Isaiah 58:13-14).Since the ancient prophets did that, Ignatius may be saying that Christians need to keep the Sabbath in accordance with Jesus’ example of doing good on the Sabbath and not be unduly focused on non-biblical restrictions—for, Ignatius says, we are to not live apart from Jesus.  Jesus, of course kept the Sabbath, as part of His way of life.

It is also possible that mainly what Ignatius was doing was the same type of thing that Paul warned about in Colossians 2:16—he was telling Christians to let the “body of Christ” and not others (like those advocating  extra-biblical Jewish practices) tell them how to keep the Sabbath.  He may have simply written this section to help differentiate Christians from Jews in the eyes of both the Christians and the Gentile governments that they tended to be under (distancing Christians from Jews would have been physically advantageous for many Christians at that time).  But regardless of the intended point, Ignatius’ Letter to the Magnesiansdoes not advocate doing away with the biblical Sabbath, nor does it show that the Sabbath was being replaced by Sunday prior to the time of the Smyrna church era’s prominence.

It may also be of interest to note how the less-accepted “longer” version of Ignatius’ letter was translated in the Ante-Nicene Fathers as follows:

Let us therefore no longer keep the Sabbath after the Jewish manner…[32]

The text here seems less ambigious, hence a more accurate transation is essentially forced.

Furthermore, the above version adds:

But let every one of you keep the Sabbath after a spiritual manner, rejoicing in meditation on the law, not in relaxation of the body, admiring the workmanship of God, and not eating things prepared the day before, nor using lukewarm drinks, and walking within a prescribed space, nor finding delight in dancing and plaudits which have no sense in them. [33]

Ignatius was not teaching that the Sabbath was done away and replaced by Sunday.  The above version seems to be more consistent with the meaning than how most others have translated the more “accepted” version.

It should be understood that Ignatius’ other writings show that he did not try to do away with the sabbath commandment. Notice what else he wrote in his Letter to the Magnesians:

It is fitting, then, not only to be called Christians, but to be so in reality: as some indeed give one the title of bishop, but do all things without him. Now such persons seem to me to be not possessed of a good conscience, seeing they are not stedfastly gathered together according to the commandment. [34]

The commandment that involves meeting together is the fourth commandment. It is the commandment that says to:

Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy (Exodus 20:8).

Part of the way the Sabbath day is kept holy is by meeting together for church services (referred to as “an holy convocation” in Leviticus 23:1-3). There is no direct statement anywhere in the Bible requiring a weekly convocation on Sunday.

While some Sabbatarians, and others, have questioned the authenticity of Ignatius writing the subject letter, any who have truly looked into this matter can affirm that the word ‘day,’ as in the expression “Lord’s day,” is missing from the Greek there and in the Didache [35] –I have both documents in Greek and can also do so.

Ignatius’ Other Writings

In his Letter to the Romans, Ignatius observed that true Christians kept the commandments:

I also salute in the name of Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father: to those who are united, both according to the flesh and spirit, to every one of His commandments [36].

But if any one preach the Jewish law unto you, listen not to him. For it is better to hearken to Christian doctrine from a man who has been circumcised, than to Judaism from one uncircumcised. But if either of such persons do not speak concerning Jesus Christ, they are in my judgment but as monuments and sepulchres of the dead, upon which are written only the names of men. Flee therefore the wicked devices and snares of the prince of this world, lest at any time being conquered by his artifices, ye grow weak in your love [37].

Notice that Ignatius is once again complaining about Judaic customs that are not from the Bible. How do we know that the practices that Ignatius is referring to are not from the Bible? Because Ignatius is clearly saying to avoid snares from “the prince of the world.” The prince Ignatius is referring to is Satan (see Ephesians 2:2), and since the Sabbath did not come from Satan, as it came from God (see Genesis 2:1-3), Ignatius would not refer to something that God made as wicked.

Furthermore, notice that Ignatius mentioned about keeping “every one of His commandments”, thus this is not simply an admonition to love, but to keep all the commandments.

In his Letter to the Smyrnaeans, Ignatius wrote about false Christians:

But I guard you beforehand from those beasts in the shape of men, whom you must not only not receive, but, if it be possible, not even meet with; only you must pray to God for them, if by any means they may be brought to repentance, which, however, will be very difficult. Yet Jesus Christ, who is our true life, has the power of [effecting] this. But if these things were done by our Lord only in appearance, then am I also only in appearance bound. And why have I also surrendered myself to death, to fire, to the sword, to the wild beasts? But, [in fact,] he who is near to the sword is near to God; he that is among the wild beasts is in company with God; provided only he be so in the name of Jesus Christ. I undergo all these things that I may suffer together with Him, He who became a perfect man inwardly strengthening me. Some ignorantly deny Him, or rather have been denied by Him, being the advocates of death rather than of the truth. These persons neither have the prophets persuaded, nor the law of Moses, nor the Gospel even to this day, nor the sufferings we have individually endured. For they think also the same thing regarding us [38].

Since he writes that some of the false Christians do not have “the law of Moses” it is reasonable to conclude that Ignatius believed that he did have the “law of Moses,” in regards to the ten commandments, including the Sabbath commandment.

(It may be of at least of passing interest to note that Ignatius referred to the church as the “church of God” four times in his writings, Letter to the Philadelphians 0:0, 10:1; Letter to the Trallians 2:2; Letter to the Smyrnaeans 0:0.)

I would also add that it is not proper to teach that Ignatius associated the ‘cross’ “with the power of the Holy Spirit” as the late Cardinal Danielou said he did [39] and many mistranslators have. Ignatius used the word staros/stake, not the word cross, in his writing in his letter to the Ephesians, Chapter IX. More on the ‘cross’ can be found in the article What is the Origin of the Cross as a ‘Christian’ Symbol?

Other Confirmation

The idea that those that professed Christ had a more positive, and less ceremonial attitude toward the Sabbath than did most of the Jews can also be found in an anonymous document titled the Epistle to Diognetus(probably written in the late second century). Specifically, in the following portion where the writer claims that the Jews:

4:3 And again to lie against God, as if He forbad us to do any good thing on the sabbath day, is not this profane? [40]

This is simply additional evidence that the way of sabbath emphasis of those who professed Christ was different from that held by many of the Jews then (an article of related interest may be The Sabbath in the Early Church and Abroad). True Christians understood Jesus’ teachings that it was lawful to do good on the Sabbath (e.g. Matthew 12:12).

Greece and the Lord’s Day?

Year ago, I wondered before going to Greece, why native Greeks did not realize that Κυριακήν did not literally mean “Lord’s Day” as that meaning is not inherent in the word.  So while in Greece, I decided to ask by speaking with several knowledgeable Greeks. Their statements made me conclude that because of pressures of tradition from compromised religious authorities, the meaning of this term had been changed over time–so much so that modern Greeks do not seem to think about its original meaning.

Now the modern Greek word for Sunday is Κυριακή [41].  Hence the Greeks consider that the word is simply now means Sunday, and thus they ignore its literal meaning. However, even in modern Greek, Κυρια (the base of the other words) still literally means Master or Lord—it has nothing to do with the Sun or a day—nor is the idea of “Sunday” supported by the context in Ignatius (more information can be found in the article Lord’s Day or Day of the Lord?).

Jesus taught that “in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men” (Matthew 15:9).


Though where it first began in “Christian” circles is not entirely clear, the first clear reference to those professing Christ meeting on Sunday was from Justin Martyr around 150 A.D. [42].

The actual Greek expression Justin used was:

τῇ τοῦ ῾Ηλίου λεγομένη ἡμέρᾳ.

His statement is often translated as, “on the day called Sunday” [43].

Notice that Justin’s comment in the Greek language demonstrates that the term Κυριακήν was not then the common Greek word for Sunday.

The terms he used specifically used were ἡμέρᾳ which means day, Ηλίου is considered to mean Sun (although it is actually the term for the sun god Helios), and λεγομένη currently means said. Thus Justin literally stated “on the day said {of} Helios” or perhaps more literally “on the Helios named day”. Justin probably used this expression to suggest to the Roman Emperor that Justin’s version of Christianity was not totally different from the worship of gods that the emperor was familiar with (and this is true).

But why Sunday? Justin actually claims that God chose the eighth day for meeting because of the fact that circumcision was performed on the eighth day:

Now, sirs,” I said, “it is possible for us to show how the eighth day possessed a certain mysterious import, which the seventh day did not possess, and which was promulgated by God through these rites…there is now another covenant, and another law has gone forth from Zion. Jesus Christ circumcises all who will–as was declared above–with knives of stone; that they may be a righteous nation, a people keeping faith, holding to the truth, and maintaining peace [44].

The average person who worships on Sunday probably does not wish to believe that this is what Sunday is based on, but this eighth day logic (which came from early Gnostics) is what the first Sunday references base its superiority on (including, as mentioned, the alleged Epistle of Barnabas).

Furthermore, it may be of interest to realize that Justin held many positions that those who worship on Sunday would hold to be heretical. Justin also stated that there were Christians in his day who kept the law of Moses (who he did not wish to associate with) and those who did not keep the Sabbath (those he kept Sunday with).

Notice that while in Ephesus, Justin Martyr wrote, in response to a Jew named Trypho:

But if, Trypho, some of your race, who say they believe in this Christ, compel those Gentiles who believe in this Christ to live in all respects according to the law given by Moses, or choose not to associate so intimately with them, I in like manner do not approve of them [45].

Thus, Justin admits that there were two groups in Ephesus, one that kept all the law and the other that did not. He also admits that he did not approve of those who kept the law.

Ignatius was associated with Polycarp, a church leader in Asia Minor, as well as with those in Ephesus, yet Ignatius and Polycarp endorsed what Justin is referring to as the law of Moses.

Furthermore, Justin Martyr records this accusation from Trypho:

But this is what we are most at a loss about: that you, professing to be pious, and supposing yourselves better than others, are not in any particular separated from them, and do not alter your mode of living from the nations, in that you observe no festivals or Sabbaths…you do not obey His commandments [46].

While the Apostle Paul told Ephesians were told to live differently than the other Gentiles in whose nation they co-existed with (Ephesians 4:17), those with Justin Martyr could not be distinguished, as they did not keep the Sabbath or the law as the true Christians in Asia Minor did. (More of Justin’s positions are documented in the article Justin Martyr: Saint or Heretic and Apostate?)

Early, Faithful, Christians Kept the Sabbath

It is well know that from the first century until about 135 A.D. the first fifteen bishops/pastors of Jerusalem all kept the seventh-day Sabbath and were all circumcised Jews [47].

Although they have their own biases, even the historians Philip Schaff and Johann Gieseler correctly noted:

The Jewish Christians, at least in Palestine, conformed as closely as possible to the venerable forms of the cultus of their fathers, which in truth were divinely ordained, and were an expressive type of the Christian worship. So far as we know, they scrupulously observed the Sabbath, the annual Jewish feasts, the hours of daily prayer, and the whole Mosaic ritual [48].

While the Jewish Christians of Palestine retained the entire Mosaic law, and consequently the Jewish festivals, the Gentile Christians observed also the Sabbath and the passover (1 Cor. v. 6-8), with reference to the last scenes of Jesus’ life, but without Jewish superstition (Gal. iv. 10 ; Col. ii. 16) [49].

It is known that early Jewish Christians did keep the Sabbath and biblical holy days. And as prophesied by Isaiah (Isaiah 56:1-7), so did the faithful Gentile Christians (and the Isaiah prophecy still has future application).


It may be of interest to note that Ignatius wrote:

…to Polycarp, bishop of the Smyrnaeans…So approving am I of your godly mind, which is as it were, grounded upon an unmovable rock, that my praise exceeds all bounds…Do not let those who appear to be trustworthy yet who teach strange doctrines baffle you.  Stand firm, like an anvil…Grace will be…always…with Polycarp [50].

And according to the later testimonies of Irenaeus, Polycrates, and Tertullian, the leader of the Sabbath-keeping Smyrnaeans [51], Polycarp, did just that (more information is available in the article Location of the Early Church: Another Look at Ephesus, Smyrna, and Rome).

Polycarp also taught that Christians should keep the commandments [52].

And on the following sabbath he said; ‘Hear ye my exhortation, beloved children of God. I adjured you when the bishops were present, and now again I exhort you all to walk decorously and worthily in the way of the Lord…Watch ye, and again Be ye ready, Let not your hearts be weighed down, the new commandment concerning love one towards another, His advent suddenly manifest as of rapid lightning, the great judgment by fire, the eternal life, His immortal kingdom. And all things whatsoever being taught of God ye know, when ye search the inspired Scriptures, engrave with the pen of the Holy Spirit on your hearts, that the commandments may abide in you indelible.’ [53]

According to the The Martyrdom of Polycarp by the Smyrnaeans [54] and other sources [55], Christians in Polycarp’s area kept the Sabbath after he died.

And since Polycarp referred to Ignatius as ‘blessed’ and endorsed Ignatius’ letters in his Letter to the Philippians [56]it is logical to conclude that Ignatius was faithful to the same teachings and practices that Polycarp did (much more information about Polycarp can be found in the article Polycarp of Smyrna).

(Note: While some claim Polycarp also kept Sunday, that appears to be a later edition to the text [57].)

According to the The Martyrdom of Polycarp by the Smyrnaeans [58] and other sources [59], Christians in Polycarp’s area kept the Sabbath after he died.

And since Polycarp referred to Ignatius as ‘blessed’ and endorsed Ignatius’ letters in his Letter to the Philippians [60]it is logical to conclude that Ignatius was faithful to the same teachings and practices that Polycarp did.


In the late second century, Pastor/Bishop Theophilus of Antioch wrote:

And on the sixth day God finished His works which He made, and rested on the seventh day from all His works which He made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it; because in it He rested from all His works which God began to create…Moreover, [they spoke] concerning the seventh day, which all men acknowledge; but the most know not that what among the Hebrews is called the “Sabbath,” is translated into Greek the “Seventh” (έβδομάς), a name which is adopted by every nation, although they know not the reason of the appellation…God having thus completed the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and all that are in them, on the sixth day, rested on the seventh day from all His works which He made [61].

More more information on Theophilus and the Sabbath, check out the article on Theophilus of Antioch.

The early faithful Gentile Christians kept the Sabbath. Until the early third century, there was harmony between the faithful Christians in Antioch and Asia Minor.


Early Jewish and Gentile Christians kept the seventh day Sabbath. The faithful did not believe that the Sabbath was done away.

Neither the Didache or Ignatius’ Letter to the Magnesians actually mention the term Sunday or directly refer to the first day of the week.

The Didache is not an endorsement of early Sunday observance.

Ignatius, himself, would have had to be a supporter of the seventh day Sabbath and would not have written against it. Nor, if properly translated, do Ignatius’ letters ever truly write against the seventh day sabbath–instead they endorse the concept that Christians are to keep the Sabbath in accordance with the commandments and the Lord’s way of living, but not according to the ways endorsed by unbiblical Jewish tradition.

There is no evidence whatsoever that any who professed Christ regularly worshiped on Sunday when Ignatius was alive. The simple fact is that Ignatius’ writings do not support the idea that the early New Testament Church observed Sunday.

The Greek expression he used in Magnesians (κυριακήν ζωντες) simply did not mean Sunday when Ignatius wrote his letters. And there is no other contemporaneous reference that any professing Christian at the time of Ignatius observed Sunday. Available evidence (including the Bible, i.e. Acts 13:42-44; Hebrews 4:9) clearly supports the idea that early Christians kept the seventh day Sabbath.

The first clear reference to Sunday worship, even according to Roman Catholic sources, was from Justin [62, 63]. Yet he held so many heretical positions, it makes no sense to this author that any could truly consider him to be a true Christian.

On the other hand, Polycarp and those faithful Christians who remained in Asia Minor did continue to keep the Sabbath for centuries after Jesus died.

Information on the true Christian church and its history can be found in the free online booklets Where is the True Christian Church Today? and Continuing History of the Church of God.

More information on Lord’s Day references can be found in the article Is Revelation 1:10 Discussing the Lord’s Day or the Day of the Lord?

[1] Danielou, Cardinal Jean-Guenole-Marie. The Theology of Jewish Christianity. Translated by John A. Baker. The Westminister Press, 1964, p. 343
[2]Holmes M. The Apostolic Fathers–Greek Text and English Translations, 3rd printing 2004. Baker Books, Grand Rapids (MI) p. 271

[3] Ignatius.  Letter to the Trallians. Verse 9. In: Holmes M. pp. 164-165

[4] Slater T. Sunday. Transcribed by Scott Anthony Hibbs. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume XIV. Copyright © 1912 by Robert Appleton Company. Online Edition Copyright © 2003 by K. Knight. Nihil Obstat, July 1, 1912. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York

[5] The Didache.  Verse 14.1.   In: Holmes, pp. 250-269

[6] Pixner B. Church of the Apostles Found on Mt. Zion. Biblical Archaeology Review, May/June 1990: 16-35,60

[7] The Didache. In Apostolic Fathers. Kirsopp Lake, 1912 (Loeb Classical Library) © 2001 Peter Kirby

[8] The Didache. Translated by Isaac Hall and John Napier. Revised by K. Knight. Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 7. Edited by Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson. American Edition, 1886. Online Edition Copyright © 2004 by K. Knight. Note: The Greek is from Holmes, above.

[9] The Didache.  Verse 14.1.   In: Holmes, p. 266

[10] The Didache, Verse 14.1. Lake.

[11] Ibid

[12] The Didache.  Verse 8.1.   In: Holmes, p. 258

[13] The Didache. Hall Napier.

[14] Ibid
[15] Conybeare F.C. The Key of Truth: A Manual of the Paulician Church of Armenia. Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1898, p. clii
[16] Holmes, p. 154

[17] Ignatius. Letter to the Magnesians, Verse 9.1. Translated by J.B. Lightfoot. Apostolic Fathers, Lightfoot & Harmer, 1891 translation. © 2001 Peter Kirby

[18] Ignatius.  Letter to the Magnesians. In: Holmes M. pp. 150-159

[19] Ibid

[20] The Didache. Translated by J.B. Lightfoot. Apostolic Fathers, Lightfoot & Harmer, 1891 translation. © 2001 Peter Kirby

[21] Ibid
[22] Guy F.  Lord’s Day in the Letter of Ignatius to the Magnesians.  AUSS 2, 1964: 17 Cited in Bacchiocchi S. Anti-Judaism and the Origin of Sunday, p. 93
[23] Kitto J.  The cyclopaedia of Biblical literature, Volume 2.  American Book Exchange, 1881.  Original from Harvard University, Digitized. Jan 31, 2008 p. 270
[24] Ibid

[25] Ignatius.  Letter to the Magnesians. Verse 8. In: Holmes M. The Apostolic Fathers–Greek Text and English Translations, 3rd printing 2004, p. 154

[26] Condos, Theony.  Meeting with Dr. Thiel regarding Ignatius’ Letter to the Magnesians.  Santa Barbara, California.  July 31, 2005 (in 2007, 2009, 2010, and 2011, Dr. Condos also served as the parish president for Saint Barbara Greek Orthodox Church)

[27] Strong J.  Words 3371 & 3361 in Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, Greek Dictionary of the New Testament, Abington, Nashville, 1890 , p.48

[28] The Mysterious Relationship of The Early Nazarene Christians and Rabbinic Judaism. http://hope-of-israel.org/nazarene.htm 02/24/16
[29] Edersheim A. The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, Volume 2. Longmans, Green, and Company, 1883, p. 775

[30] Rude N. Emails to COGwriter, 2/23/11 and 03/03/2011

[31] Hoogsteen T. The Tradition of the Elders: The Way of the Oral Law. Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2014, pp. 2-4

[32] Ignatius (Pseudo). The Epistle to the Magnesians (longer recension). Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 1. Edited by Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson. American Edition, 1885. Hendrickson Publishers, Peabody (MA), 1999 printing, p.62

[33] Ibid

[34] Ignatius. Letter to the Magnesians, Chapter III. Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 1. Edited by Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson. American Edition, 1885. Online Edition Copyright © 2004 by K. Knight

[35] Lewis A.H.  A Critical History of the Sabbath and the Sunday in the Christian Church.  American Sabbath Tract Association, Plainfield (NJ), 1903, pp. 8-10

[36] Ignatius. Letter to the Romans, Chapter I. Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 1. Edited by Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson. American Edition, 1885. Online Edition Copyright © 2004 by K. Knight

[37] Ignatius. Letter to the Philadelphians. Chapter VI. Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 1. Edited by Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson. American Edition, 1885. Online Edition Copyright © 2004 by K. Knight

[38] Ignatius. Letter to the Smyrnaeans, Chapters IV-V. Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 1. Edited by Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson. American Edition, 1885. Online Edition Copyright © 2004 by K. Knight

[39] Danielou, Cardinal Jean-Guenole-Marie. The Theology of Jewish Christianity. Translated by John A. Baker. The Westminister Press, 1964, p. 278

[40] The Epistle To Diognetus. Translated by J.B. Lightfoot. In Apostolic Fathers. Lightfoot & Harmer, 1891 translation, Online version © 2001 Peter Kirby

[41] Stavropoulos DN.  Oxford English-Greek Learner’s Dictionary, 14th ed.  Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2003, p. 487

[42]Slater T. Sunday

[43] Justin Martyr.  The First Apology.  Chapter LXVII. Text edited by Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson and first published in Edinburgh, 1867. Additional introductionary material and notes provided for the American edition by A. Cleveland Coxe 1886. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, reprint 2001

[44] Justin. Dialogue with Trypho. Chapter XXIV.

[45] Justin.  Dialogue with Trypho. Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 1. Edited by Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson. American Edition, 1885. Online Edition Copyright © 2005 by K. Knight

[46] Justin Martyr.  Dialogue with Trypho. Chapter 10. Translated by Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson. Excerpted from Volume I of The Ante-Nicene Fathers (Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson, editors); American Edition copyright © 1885. Electronic version copyright © 1997 by New Advent, Inc.

[47] Eusebius. The History of the Church, Book III, Chapter V, Verses 2,3.& Book IV, Chapter 5, Verses 2-4,  pp. 45, 71

[48] Schaff, Philip, History of the Christian Church, Chapter 9. Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc. 1997. This material has been carefully compared, corrected¸ and emended according to the 1910 edition of Charles Scribner’s Sons by The Electronic Bible Society, Dallas, TX, 1998

[49] Gieseler, Johann Karl Ludwig. A text-book of church history, Volume I, Chapter II. New York : Harper & brothers. Date 1857-80

[50] Ignatius.  Letter to Polycarp.   In: Holmes, pp. 194-201

[51] The Martrydom of Polycarp. Verse 8.1. In: Holmes, p. 233
[52] Polycarp. Letter to the Philippians. In: Holmes, pp. 206-221

[53] Life of Polycarp, Chapter 24. (1889) from J. B. Lightfoot, The Apostolic Fathers, vol. 3.2, pp. 488-506

[54] The Martyrdom of Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna, Verses 7.1 & 8.1. Charles H. Hoole’s 1885 translation. © 2001 Peter Kirby

[55] Sozomen. THE ECCLESIASTICAL HISTORY OF SOZOMEN. Comprising a History of the Church, from a.d. 323 to a.d. 425. Book VII, Chapter XIX. Translated from the Greek. Revised by Chester D. Hartranft, Hartford Theological Seminary UNDER THE EDITORIAL SUPERVISION OF PHILIP SCHAFF, D.D., LL.D., AND HENRY WACE, D.D., Professor of Church History in the Union Theological Seminary, New York. Principal of King’s College, London. T&T CLARK, EDINBURGH, circa 1846

[56] Polycarp. Letter to the Philippians, verse 13.2. In: Holmes, p. 219

[57] Monroy MS. The Church of Smyrna: History and Theology of a Primitive Christian Community. Peter Lang edition, 2015, p. 31

[58] The Martyrdom of Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna, Verses 7.1 & 8.1. Charles H. Hoole’s 1885 translation


[60] Polycarp. Letter to the Philippians, verse 13.2. In: Holmes, p. 219

[61] Theophilus of Antioch. To Autolycus, Book 2, Chapters XI, XII, XIX. Translated by Marcus Dods, A.M. Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 2. Edited by Alexander Roberts & James Donaldson. American Edition, 1885, pp. 99,102

[62] Slater T. Sunday. Transcribed by Scott Anthony Hibbs. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume XIV. Published 1912. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Nihil Obstat, July 1, 1912. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor.Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York
[63] Justin Martyr.  The First Apology.  Chapter LXVII

Thiel B. Ph.D. Ignatius and the Sabbath. www.cogwriter.com (c) 2005/2006/2007/2008/2010/2011/2012/2014/2015/2016/2017/2018 0104



Wednesday Crucifixion – Saturday Resurrection Doctrine and the Eastern Churches

We are including an article compiled by Blaine Newmann, who has carefully studied and compiled the evidence that demonstrates the early Orthodox church didn’t believe Jesus(Yahshua) resurrected on Sunday. They held the more Biblical view of the Sabbath(Saturday) resurrection.


Chronology of the Crucifixion and Resurrection According to Ancient Texts

(the Wednesday Crucifixion – Saturday Resurrection proven by history)


In the Christian world today, the predominant view concerning the chronology of Christ’s last days, is that He celebrated the Last Supper on Thursday evening, was arrested that same night, crucified on Friday, and rose on Sunday morning. In the early Church, however, one finds evidence of a widespread view that Christ held His Last Supper on Tuesday evening. There is also evidence, to a certain extent, that there were early Christians who believed in a midweek crucifixion and a Saturday (Sabbath) resurrection.


To support the theory of a Tuesday night Last Supper tradition, the earliest source where I have found evidence is the Didascalia Apostolorum, a church order which is supposed to have been composed circa A.D. 200. [this was in northern Syria, near Asia Minor -ed] It states, “For while He was yet with us before He suffered as we were eating the Passover with Him, He said to us, ‘Today, in this night, one of you will betray Me’ . . . And Judas came with the scribes and with the priests of the people and betrayed our Lord Jesus. And so in the night when the fourth day of the week drew on, betrayed our Lord to them. But they made payment to Judas. . . on the second day of the week . . . For when we had eaten the Passover on the third day of the week at even, we went forth to the Mount of Olives, and in the night they seized our Lord Jesus.”1


By the end of the third century a fast was celebrated on Wednesday (until 3:00 p.m.) to commemorate Christ’s arrest. Victorinus, Bishop of Petau (martyred in A.D. 304) explains: “Now is manifested   the reason of the truth why the fourth day is called the Tetras, why we fast even to the ninth hour . . . The man Christ . . . was taken prisoner by wicked hands, by a quaternion, on account of the majesty of His works . . . therefore, we make a station or a supernumerary fast.”2


Epiphanius, Bishop of Salamis ( 367-403 A.D.) [he was based in Cyprus and influential in the eastern Church – ed], says: “Wednesday and Friday are days of fasting up to the ninth hour because, as Wednesday began the Lord was arrested and on Friday he was crucified.”3


Even though at this time Friday was believed to be the day of the crucifixion, Wednesday was still known as the day of Christ’s arrest. The early Pseudopigraphal Book of Adam and Eve (composed approximately A.D. 400) states the same. It says, “Then the Word of God said to Adam: ‘Adam, you have determined in advance the days when sufferings will come upon me when I shall have become flesh; for those days are Wednesday and Friday’.”4 (The literal reading is actually the “fourth” instead of “Wednesday” and “the preparation” in place of “Friday.”)


Another pseudopigraphal work called “The Narrative of Joseph” (originally believed to have been composed in the fourth century, but which copy we have only from the twelfth century) states: “Jesus also was taken on the third day before the Passover, in the evening. And on the following day, the fourth day of the week, they brought Him at the ninth hour into the hall of Caiaphas.”5


In most modern liturgical churches today, the reason for the Wednesday fast is largely forgotten, however, the Wednesday fast is very much alive in Eastern Orthodox Churches. Early Doctrines of the Eastern Churches 17  [emphasis mine – ed] Even today in the Coptic Church [i.e. Egyptian Christian Church – ed] the reason for fasting on Wednesday echoes the exact reason why the primitive Christian church fasted on Wednesday. The Coptic Encyclopedia  states, “The Coptic Church ordains that Wednesday and Friday be observed as fast days, the former being the day on which Jesus Christ was condemned to be crucified, and the latter being the day on which his crucifixion took place.”6


Though the above quoted references show that a Friday crucifixion was endorsed alongside a Tuesday last supper belief, in the Acts of Pilate  (a pseudepigraphal work originally composed in the fourth century) a midweek crucifixion seems to be indicated. According to the Acts of Pilate, Karinus and Leucius, two saints who were supposedly resurrected at the time of Christ’s resurrection, were reported to have been told by Christ to stay at Jerusalem for three more days to complete the observation of Passover.7


One Greek version says: “Thereafter we went unto Jerusalem also and accomplished the Passover.” One Latin version states: “For three days only were allowed unto us who rose from the dead, to keep the Passover of the Lord in Jerusalem with our kindred (parents) that are living for a testimony of the resurrection of Christ the Lord. And after three days, when we had kept the Passover of the Lord, all they were caught up in the clouds which had risen with us and were taken over Jordan and were no more seen of any man.”8


Since Christ was killed on the preparation day of the Passover, seven days of unleavened bread followed and then the Passover festival was completed . The statement that only three days were left to accomplish the Passover after Christ’s resurrection would indicate that Christ spent a full three days and three nights in the grave, and not only parts of three days. Thus the Acts of Pilate seem to promote a midweek crucifixion.


If one assumes the Last Supper took place on a Tuesday evening and Christ was crucified on a Wednesday, then Thursday would have to be a Sabbath day, since the scriptures state that Christ was crucified on the preparation day before the Sabbath.


Luke 23:54 says: “And that day was the preparation, and the Sabbath drew on.” John 19:31 says: “The Jews therefore, because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the Sabbath day, (for that Sabbath day was an high day) besought Pilate that their legs might be broken and that they might be taken away.”


Rabbi Samuel Lacks states: “The day of preparation (Greek paraskeue) equals Friday or the day before a holiday.”9 Since the day of preparation can mean a day before any holy day, the preparation day Christ was crucified on could well have been on a Wednesday and the Passover Sabbath on a weekday (i.e., Thursday). With this scenario, the Passover meal would have been on a Tuesday. According to Leviticus 23:5-8 the fourteenth of the first month is the day of the Passover meal and the day following, the fifteenth, is a Passover Sabbath. It reads: “In the fourteenth day of the first month at even is the Lord’s Passover. And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the feast of unleavened bread unto the Lord. Seven days ye must eat unleavened bread. In the first day ye shall have an holy convocation: ye shall do no servile work therein.” Therefore the Passover Sabbath could be on a weekday.


Christ died on the preparation day at the ninth hour (3:00 p.m.) and was buried before sunset. If that day were a Wednesday, then three full days and three full nights later would be Saturday at 3:00 p.m., or just before sunset.


According to this chronology, Christ would have to be resurrected on Saturday after 3:00 p.m., yet before sunset. He would have been resurrected on the Sabbath day. This is evidently what some early Christians believed. In the early Christian church there were many who believed that the resurrection of Christ took place on the Sabbath, which is Saturday, the Early Doctrines of the Eastern Churches 18 seventh day of the week. By the fifth century A.D., Easter Sunday celebrations of Christ’s resurrection were widespread in Christianity. However, the Church historian Socrates (ca. 440 A.D.) in a section of his history entitled, “Differences of usage in regard to Easter,” reveals that in the East there were Christians who celebrated Easter on Sabbath instead of Sunday. He stated: “Others in the East kept that feast on the Sabbath indeed.”10


Bishop Gregory of Tours (A.D. 538-594) tells us that many in France believed Christ arose on the seventh day of the week, even though he himself defended a Sunday resurrection belief. He stated: “Now in our belief the resurrection of the Lord was on the first day, and not on the seventh as many deem.”11


Alexander Ross (A.D. 1590-1654) tells us the Armenians [near to Asia Minor – ed] believed in a Saturday resurrection, though he disagrees with them. He stated, “The Armenii taught . . . that Christ rose from the dead on the Sabbath day, whereas the Scripture tells us plainly that He arose on the third day.”12


Though the belief that Christ rose on the Sabbath has appeared to be long forgotten and abandoned by most Christians today, vestiges of this belief appear to have survived in an indirect way through certain ceremonies in the eastern church [emphasis mine – ed]. For example, in the Coptic Church, on Holy Saturday “following the ninth hour (i.e., 3:00 p.m.), the Divine Liturgy is celebrated.”13 As early as 400 A.D., both Socrates and Sozomen state that in Egypt there was a Sabbath evening celebration of the communion.14 In the Nestorian Church in India the communion (Qurbana) is still celebrated to this day at sunset on Holy Saturday in honor of Christ’s resurrection. Mar Aprem says, “On Holy Saturday it is stated that Qurbana should be at sunset. Because it is believed that Jesus rose from the tomb at that time.”15


Since Christ died at the ninth hour (3:00 p.m.) on the day of preparation, and if this day was a Wednesday, then a full three days and three nights later would bring one to 3:00 p.m., Saturday. Since Christ was buried before sunset, then Christ would have been raised before sunset. The time of Christ’s Saturday resurrection would have been between 3:00 p.m. and sunset — no later.



Didascalia Apostolarum, (translated by R. High Connolly), Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1929, p. 181.

The Writing of Quintus Sept. Flor. Tertullianus with the extant works of Victorinus and Commodianus, vol. 3, Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1895, pp. 388, 389.

Annie Jaubert, The Date of the Last Supper, N.Y., Alba House, 1965, p. 77.

Supra. n. 3. p. 79.

Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 8, Michigan. Wm. B. Eerdmans. 1956, p. 468.

The Coptic Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, N.Y.: MacMillian Publishing Company, 1991, p. 1096.

Montague Rhodes James, The Apocryphal New Testament, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1960, pp.

142, 143.


Samuel Tobias Lachs, A Rabbinic Commentary of the New Testament, New Jersey: Ktav Publishing House, Inc. 1987, p. 437.

Nicene and Post Nicene Fathers, Vol. 2, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdman’s, 1952, p. 131.

Gregory of Tours, The History of the Franks, Vol. 2, (trans. by D.M. Dalton), Oxford:

Clarendon Press, 1927, p. 24.

Alexander Ross, Pansebeia: or A View of All the Religions of the World, London, John Saywell, 1658, p. 219.

Supra, n. 6, p. 1252.

The Sabbath in Scripture and History, (ed. Kenneth A. Strand), Washington D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1982, p. 171.

Early Doctrines of the Eastern Churches 19

Mar Aprem, Sacraments of the Church of the East, India: Mar Narsai Press, 1978, p. 112. [written by Blaine Newmann, Box 5294, Devon, Alberta, T9G 1Y1, CANADA. Mr. Newmann is a minister in the Church of God, Seventh Day. Published in Giving & Sharing newsletter, June 1998, No. 47, pages 14-16]

[NB: A work which traces the history of the Wednesday crucifixion doctrine since the mid-1800s is A History of the Saturday Resurrection Doctrine, by George Dellinger available for free download from www.friendsofsabbath.org – ed]


Church Fathers Indicate a Unity in Faith Prevailed

While Sabbath was the norm, still the whole church universal expressed a unity. This is shown in the records of the early church fathers. Often we find that the records of their  observations and dealings with the early Celtic Culdees are quite telling.


Irenaeus, A.D. 178, says that the church in his time was spread throughout the World; and especially mentions the churches in Germany, Spain, Gaul, and Britain. He adds: “There is no difference of faith or tradition in any of these countries.”

The credit of introducing Christianity into this region has been claimed not only for Paul, but also for Peter, Philip, John, Simon Zelotes, and Joseph of Arimathea…


Venantius Fortunatus, A.D. 560, says: “St. Paul passed over the ocean to the Island of Britain, and to Thule, the extremity of the earth.” (Ireland)

The biography of Augustine tells it plainly. He came from Rome A.D. 596, to convert the “heathen Saxons”. He said that he found the people of Britain in the most grievous and intolerable heresies, “being given to Judaizing, but ignorant of the holy sacraments and festivals of the church.” That is to say, they kept the Bible Sabbath and were ignorant of the Roman “Sunday-festival.” (Mrs. Tamar Davis: “History of Sabbatarian Churches,” p. 108. Phila 1851.) …


John Price, in “The Ancient British Church,” (pp 90, 94. Note), says: “The original difference (about Easter) was that the Western church, followed herein by the churches of Jerusalem and Antioch and Alexandria, observed Good Friday either on the 14th of the month Nisan, if it fell on Friday, or, if not, on the next Friday; and Easter on the following Sunday. The Eastern church did not do that way” and then he adds: “There is, however, an unfair insinuation that the British Christians were Judaic in their observance of Easter day, in a letter of Pope elect, John (A.D. 634), to the Scoti; and in Aldhelm’s Epistle to Geruntius.” This “insinuation,” far from being unfair, is rather the more a true statement of the Sabbath observance of the Celtic church, which even celebrated its Easter or resurrection festival on the day which the Scriptures point out as the one on which the Saviour rose from the grave, (which was “late on the Sabbath.” Matt. 28:1-4) (Seventh Day Baptists in Europe and America” Volume 1, 1910 pp 21-39).


Adomnan’s Life of Columba, Thomas Nelson’s Medieval Texts, 1961, pages 25-26, we read: “Adomnan’s use of sabbatum for Saturday, the seventh day of the week, is clear indication from ‘Columba’s mouth’ that ‘Sabbath was not Sunday.’ Sunday, the first day of the week is ‘Lord’s day.” Adomnan’s attitude to Sunday is important, because he wrote at a time when there was controversy over the question whether the ritual of the Biblical Sabbath was to be transferred to the Christians’ Lord’s-day. — A.O. and M.O. Anderson (editors)

“The Old Testament required seventh-day Sabbath observance and, reason Adomnan’s editors, since the New Testament nowhere repealed the fourth commandment, the seventh-day was observed by all early Christians. The evidence they adduce suggests that no actual confusion between Sunday and ‘the Sabbath’ occurred until the early sixth century, and then in the writings of the rather obscure Caesarius of Arles. (Ibid., page 26.)…”

The Roman ‘movement’ to supersede the Celtic Sabbath with Sunday ‘culminated in the production of an (apocryphal) ‘Letter of Jesus’, or ‘Letter of Lord’s day’, alleged to have been found on the altar of Peter in Rome; and is said in the annals to have been brought to Ireland by a pilgrim (c. 886). Upon this basis laws were promulgated, imposing heavy penalties for those that violated on Sunday certain regulations derived from Jewish prohibitions for Sabbath. . . . There is in fact no historical evidence that Ninian, or Patrick, or Columba, or any of their contemporaries in Ireland, kept Sunday as a Sabbath.’ (Ibid., page 28.) (Celtic Sabbath-Keeping Study No. 264, from Cherith Chronicle, April-June 1998, pp. 46-47. http://www.giveshare.org/BibleStudy/264.celtic-sabbath-keeping.html 6/24/06).



The Apostolic Constitutions (circa 250AD).

The Constitutions of the Holy Apostles, also called the “Didascalia” was part of the original canon of Scripture. However for most orthodox, it remains apocryphal. The teachings of the Didascalia are still considered fundamental to the Orthodox beliefs. Some quotes are as follows:

XXIII…But keep the Sabbath, and the Lord’s day festival; because the former is the memorial of the creation, and the latter of the resurrection (Apostolic Constitutions – Didascalia Apostolorum Book VII, Section II. As cited in Andrews J.N. in History of the Sabbath, 3rd edition, 1887. Reprint Teach Services, Brushton (NY), 1998, p. 329 and Constitutions of the Holy Apostles, Bk. 7, Sec. 2, Ch. 23, trans. in ANF, Vol. 7, 1885. Hendrickson Publishers, Peabody (MA), printing 1999, p. 469)…

XXXIII…Let the slaves work five days; but on the Sabbath-day and the Lord’s day let them have leisure to go to church for instruction in piety. We have said that the Sabbath is on account of the creation, and the Lord’s day of the resurrection (Apostolic Constitutions – Didascalia Apostolorum Book VIII, Section IV).

XXXVI. O Lord Almighty Thou hast created the world by Christ, and hast appointed the Sabbath in memory thereof, because that on that day Thou hast made us rest from our works, for the meditation upon Thy laws…Thou didst give them the law or Decalogue, which was pronounced by Thy voice and written with Thy hand. Thou didst enjoin the observation of the Sabbath, not affording them an occasion of idleness, but an opportunity of piety, for their knowledge of Thy power, and the prohibition of evils; having limited them as within an holy circuit for the sake of doctrine, for the rejoicing upon the seventh period…On this account He permitted men every Sabbath to rest, that so no one might be willing to send one word out of his mouth in anger on the day of the Sabbath. For the Sabbath is the ceasing of the creation, the completion of the world, the inquiry after laws, and the grateful praise to God for the blessings He has bestowed upon men (Apostolic Constitutions – Didascalia Apostolorum Book VII, Section II)

There is a seventh book of the Apostolic Constitutions which contains seventeen Sabbath blessings in six prayers that are identical to the Jewish “Amidah of the Sabbath”. This is pre-rabbinic liturgy put together by Ezra the Scribe.


The British Orthodox Church

The Celtic Church (and today’s branches) are Hebrew and Orthodox

The Celtic Church which occupied Ireland, Scotland, and Britain, had the Syriac (Byzantine) scriptures instead of the Latin Vulgate of Rome. The Celtic Church, with the Waldenses and the Eastern empire, kept the seventh-day Sabbath.

The hundreds of pre-schism Orthodox Saints of Great Britain bear the strongest testimony of these facts. Today the Eastern churches still venerate most of these. For Britain alone we have cataloged 130 official Saints of England who pre-dated Augustine. An example of the most popular pre-schism Orthodox Saints of England can be found on-line on such sites as http://www.oodegr.co/english/istorika/britain/British_Saints.htm. Our list of the 130 English Saints before Augustine can be found at http://glastonburyculdee.org/130%20british%20Saints%20before%20augustine.pdf


Hebrew Celtic Law

Not only was the Celtic church using a Syriac Byzantine Bible, but they were more successful in guarding the whole law of YAHWEH.

One example of the Hebrew Celtic Law is the Ex Lieber Moisi.

The Liber ex Lege Moisi, was distributed by Saint Patrick and his successors at every Celtic church, whether in England, Scotland or Ireland.

Summary of contents:

  1. The seventh day Sabbath.
  2. Slavery and the relationship of master to servants
  3. Various capital offences.
  4. Compensation in money of “kind” for different crimes.
  5. Animals’ offences against person and property.
  6. Animals used as food, clean and unclean, and slaughtering.
  7. Sex and marriage.
  8. Feminine hygiene.
  9. Tithes, first-fruits, vows, and offerings of all kinds.
  • Justice, bribery, witnesses, traduction, and usury.
  1. Cities of refuge, asylum, and hospitality.
  2. Wizards and necromancy and human sacrifices.
  3. Inheritance, and the Sabbatical and Jubilees years, debts.
  4. Sights of a true prophet.
  5. Cursing and blessing.

This formed the basis of beliefs by the Celtic Christians.

The regulations of Adamnan, accepted that people could eat the unclean swine, but not if it was too fat. The pigs must be lean.

The dietary habits of Columba were clearly described as abstaining from meat and ale. (see “Old-Irish Life of Columba”, or “Amhra Chulimb Chille”.)


St. Joseph (of the Sanhedrin) Founded the British Hebrew Priesthood in 36AD

Archbishop Parker, the first Archbishop of Canterbury in the reign of Queen Elizabeth promised in his letter to Calvin, concerning the proposal of a union among all Protestants, reminding him that the Church of England would “retain her Episcopacy; but not as from Pope Gregory, who sent Augustine the monk hither, but from Joseph of Arimathea.” (Gildas, 1525)

“The ancient British Church, by whomsoever planted, was a stranger to the Bishop of Rome and all his pretended authorities.” (Sir William Blackstone, Commentaries on the Laws of England 1765–1769, Vol. IV, p.105.)

Note: Blackstone lexicons are the standard for all law universities.

“… this [Celtic Culdee] Church without competition was senior to all Christian churches in the world.” (Thomas Fuller, “The Church History of Britain, from the Birth of Jesus Christ…”)

The Bishop Usher writes in Brittannicarum Ecclesiarum Antiquitates: “The British National Church was founded A.D. 36. 160 years before heathen Rome confessed Christianity”.

Theodore Martin, of Lvan, writes of the disputes over preeminence in Disputoilis superDignitatem Anglis it Gallioe in Councilio Constantiano, A.D 1517: ”Three times the antiquity of the British Church was affirmed in Ecclesiastical Councila. The Council of Pisa, A.D 141; Council of Constance, A.D. 1419; Council of Siena, A.D. 1423. It was stated that the British Church took precedence over all other Churches, being founded by Joseph of Arimathea, immediately after the passion of Christ.”

It was demonstrated in the early church councils that the Bishops of Britain maintained their seniority over all other Bishops.

In AD 314 the Records of the Church Council of Arles confirms these facts. The ArchBishop Restitutus of London, ArchBishop Eborius of York, and ArchBishop Adelphinus of Caerleon attended as chief representatives of the British Church. Representatives of these same Archbishoprics were present again at the Council of Sardica in Illyria in 347, and that of Sulpicius Severus, that several bishops from Britain were present at the Council of Ariminum (in Italy) in A.D. 359.

In the biography of Augustine who came from Rome A.D. 596, to convert the heathen Saxons, we are told that he found the people of Britain in the most grievous and intolerable heresies, “being given to Judaizing, but ignorant of the holy sacraments and festivals of the church.” That is to say, they kept the Bible Sabbath and were ignorant of the Roman “Sunday-festival.” (Mrs. Tamar Davis : “History of Sabbatarian Churches,” p. 108. Phila 1851.) …

The absolute facts of the Culdee ministers is they all had strict genealogical inheritance as recorded in “the Welsh Genealogies of Saints”. The Culdees have demonstrated the best documentation on Levitical ancestry known to man. (There is more on inheritance of autonomous Abbeys from father-to-son in our other articles.)

Another absolute fact of the Culdees is they never considered themselves to be under another foreign Bishop, whether in England or abroad. The Culdee Abbots especially fought for this at Glastonbury, where since Saint Patrick they demonstrated a policy of marriage for Priests and Abbots. That is until the abbey was destroyed and Henry VIII started his new religion for England.

Another other absolute fact about the Culdees is under much peril they fought for the Mosaic law. Under much effort they preserved the Sabbath in every generation, and we have them to thank for the future generations of Christendom. Many documented Culdee families are known for being Seventh Day Baptist and Congregationalists who promoted the freedom to keep the Sabbath, against all odds an threats by the government. Even against laws that banned the Sabbath, they made a way to preserve it under harsh circumstances.

As is most clear from the early Culdee priests, and later documents, they believed in the literal Hebrew Sabbath. The Culdees regarded Saturday, the seventh day of the week, to be the only Sabbath of Christendom.

Later on in this book we cover 130 other Saints from the first few Centuries in Great Britain known to be from the “Old Church” setup by Saint Joseph of Arimathea.

Of the four hundred bishops of the Western Church there assembled he writes: “Unto all… the Emperor had ordered provisions and appointments to be given. But that was deemed unbecoming by the Aquitans, Gauls and Britons; and refusing the Iperial offer they preferred to live at their own expense. Three only from Britain, on account of poverty, made use of the public gift after they had rejected the contribution offered by the others; considering it more proper to burden the exchequer than individuals’(Sulpitii Severi Historiae, l. ii, c. 55).

These three demonstrated at what extremes they were willing to endure to prove the independence of the British Culdee church. This resistance persisted even against one of their own, Emperor Constantine with his British ancestry of the Royal House of Judah. They still refused to submit, in order to prove they do not need to unite under a pagan mixed religion.

“f or several generations, with the errors which at that time prevailed in the church of Rome, they (the early Celtic Church) seem not to have been in the least tainted.” (Smith’s Life of Columba, p. 114)

In Domesday book, Glastonbury Abbey is referred to as Domus Dei “the Home of God”. It is catalogued as twelve hides of lands which have never paid tax. These lands were given by the British High-king Arviragus to Joseph and his companions, free from tax (among numerous other rights) in perpetuity. This has been upheld, reaffirmed and defended by numerous successive governments, foreign nations and church councils. The Domesday record contains the following text: “The Domus Dei, in the great monastery of Glastonbury, called the secret of Yahweh.” (Domesday Survey, folio p. 249b, as completed in 1088AD)

“like the priests under the law (Levites), they were succeeded by inheritance”, “in the church of Saint Andrews the Culdees came into the office hereditarily” “The Culdees of Ireland also practiced hereditary succession, the Bishopric of Armagh, could demonstrate fifteen generations.” (From Jamieson’s “Ancient Culdees” Chapter 2)

Jeremiah the Prophet and Baruch the Scribe are also well documented to have setup the first original priesthood that Joseph was able to perfect.


Saint Joseph of Arimathea

The first Culdee at Glastonbury , Saint Joseph of Arimathea, was a member of the Sanhedrin at Jerusalem , and the holder of the Twelve Hides at Glastonbury . In the first century he mounted his Hebrew staff of authority in the ground, which blossomed into a tree. Today it is still regarded as the ultimate symbol of Hebrew law over England, through his Levitical (Zadokian lineage) that passed to their chief heir in the order of MelchiZadok, finally to Yahshua Ha Machiac (Jesus the Christ).


Saint Columba, the Culdee

Saint Columba, the Culdee, in following after his compatriots Patrick and Bride, made Glastonbury his headquarters for a period of time (according to Malmesbury). His effects on Glastonbury are evident with the two chapels in the vicinity, named after him (or his successor Columbanus). Being the Culdee, Irish and English Royal descended priest, and Apostle to Europe, surely his headquarters was at Glastonbury before moving to Iona.

At his death bed, his last words were solely to respect and honour the Sabbath of YAHWEH on Saturday. In his dying moments he reiterated that Saturday, the seventh day of the week was the Sabbath. This has been recorded by numerous sources.


The Rule of Columbanus

The Monastic Rule of Columbanus has several mentions of Sabbath as an ordinary part of the litugy. It says on most holy days such as “the Lord’s day” and “The Sabbath” that three times as many Psalms are sung.

In the 10th Chapter of his rule, on the Monk’s perfection it says,

“If any wishes, let him prepare the offering of the Lord’s Day on the day of the Sabbath; when the ablutions are over the priests are to change, if it is possible, but let the deacons perform their proper service either before or after the exhortation.”

Meaning, if any wish, they celebrate the ordinary Christian services of the Lord’s day on the Saturday Sabbath.


Historical Account On Culdee “Primitive” Christians

In “Dialogue on the Lord’s Day”, p.189. Published in London: 1701. By Dr. T.H. Morer (Church of England): “The primitive Christians had a great veneration for the Sabbath, and spent the day in devotion and sermons. And it is not to be doubted but they derived this practice from the Apostles themselves, as appears by several scriptures to that purpose.”


Saint David, Bishop of Wales

SAINT DAVID, of Menevia Wales was consecrated by John III, Bishop of Jerusalem. Saint David as the first to add on to the church at Glastonbury since the wattle church which Jesus had built. This is through the lines of St. James the Just, and Bishops of Jerusalem, he was following in the footsteps of the many Apostles who moved to Glastonbury. James was made the first Bishop of Jerusalem, as recognized by all the Apostles (see Acts 14: vs 12 and 19).

Nothing is considered more Celtic than the Welsh. The Flower of the Celtic culture being contained in the Welsh Triads, their genealogy of Saints etc. Welsh priests have carefully recorded their genealogies for millennia to prove they stem from the Levites. Native Welsh have no need of translations when reading from original Hebrew Texts. The languages are similar enough.


The Culdees, Not Connected to Rome, Protected the Sabbath

People in the British Isles, including Ireland, may be shocked to learn this, but the First day of the week (Sunday) was not practiced in most of the Culdee lands. This didn’t change until Queen Margaret in the eleventh century began ridiculing the Culdees for keeping the Biblical 7th Day Saturday and neglecting the first day.

Only Saturday was kept by the Scottish (and most of the English) until Queen Margaret married Malcom III King of the Scots. She tried to force Sunday upon her husband’s subjects. It’s debatable how much of that stuck. This is well laid out in this article how she rigorously opposed the Culdees Sabbath keeping.

In Wylie’s “History of the Scottish Nation” he quotes Turgot’s “Life of Saint Margaret” thusly,

The Queen next charged the Culdees with having fallen into grievous heterodoxy in the matter of the Lenten fast. “Our Lord fasted forty days,” Margaret urged, “so does the Roman Church; but the Scots by refusing to fast on the Sabbaths in Lent, shorten their fast to thirty-six days.” Margaret told them that they sinned in so abbreviating this fast. Margaret, if any one, had a right to call the Culdees to repent of this heinous transgression, seeing she herself was so very exemplary in the observance of the duty of fasting. According to Turgot, the pastors professed penitence and a promised amendment.

We very much doubt the accuracy of Turgot’s statement on this head. The historic presumption is against the bishop. The Culdee pastors were not likely to profess penitence or promise amendment in a matter in which they stood fully acquitted in the eyes of their Church. It is important to observe here that the Scottish Church followed the Eastern usages in their fasts and festivals, and by the ordinances of the Eastern Church all fasts were severely prohibited on Sabbath (Saturday) and the Lord’s Day (Sunday).7 Besides, “Fasting” was not the supremely meritorious observance in the eyes of the Culdees which it was in those of Queen Margaret. Even granting that they were not able to take full advantage of the liberty which the Gospel gives to Christians, especially in the matter of bodily mortifications and ceremonial observances, they would not have burdened their consciences, we are disposed to think, with a day more or a day less in the matter, or regarded themselves and their fellow church members as shut out of the kingdom of heaven because they fasted thirty-six days only instead of forty, in the holy season of Lent.

After this came up the question of Culdee observance, or rather neglect, of the Lord’s Day. “It was another custom of theirs,” says Turgot, “to neglect the reverence due to the Lord’s Day by devoting themselves to every kind of worldly business upon it, just as they did upon other days.”8 It startles one to hear that the Columban clergy had sunk so low on this vital point. If they had turned the day of sacred rest into a day of ordinary labour; if they yoked the plough, worked the scythe, carried home the harvest, and did all their work on that day, as the words of Turgot appear to imply, they verily deserved the sharpest censure which Margaret could administer. The matter, however, is susceptible of a satisfactory explanation.

The practices of the Eastern and Western Churches differed very considerably as regards to the keeping of the Sabbath, or rather as regards to the day observed by them as that of holy rest and worship. Saturday was the Sabbath or Holy Day of the Eastern Church; not indeed to the entire exclusion of the first day of the week, on which it was their custom to sing hymns and celebrate divine service. The Western Church observed the Lord’s Day or Sunday.

Britain, including Scotland, received its first evangelisation from the East, and it continued to follow generally the usages of the Eastern Church. The historian Socrates, speaking of the usual times of the public meeting of the members of the Eastern Church, called the Sabbath and the Lord’s Day, that is Saturday and Sunday, “the weekly festivals on which the congregation was wont to meet in the church for the performance of divine services. 9 In the early Irish Church we come on traces of this custom, that is, of the observance of Saturday as the day of weekly rest and worship. We find such traces also in the history of the Scottish Church.

A well-known instance is that of Columba, as related by Adamnan. Being come to his last day, he said this day is named the Sabbath, which means rest; and this day I shall enter into my rest. He died as he had foretold, On Saturday, at midnight. This aspect of the matter completely exonerates the Columban clergy from the rather serious accusation, for which it seems at the first blush, which Turgot preferred against them, and serves to bring out the fact that the Culdees claimed relationship with an older church than Rome.

The Roman Church followed the Western usage, that is, it observed, not the seventh but the first day of the week, the Lord’s Day, the day of resurrection, as the day of rest and holy worship. What Margaret wished was to get the Culdees to adopt this practice, and so break them into conformity with the Roman and Western Church.

Noted theologian James Moffat reported: “It seems to have been customary in the Celtic churches of early times, in Ireland as well as Scotland, to keep Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath, as a day of rest from labor, and Sunday, commemorative of the Lord’s resurrection, as one of rejoicing, with exercises of public worship. In that case they obeyed the fourth commandment literally upon the seventh day of the week…”

The Queen insisted upon the single and strict observance of the Lord’s Day. People and clergy alike submitted, but without entirely giving up their reverence for Saturday, which subsequently sank into a half-holy day preparatory for Sunday (Moffat , James Clement. The Church in Scotland: A History of Its Antecedents, it Conflicts, and Its Advocates, from the Earliest Recorded Times to the First Assembly of the Reformed Church. Published by Presbyterian Board of Education, 1882. Original from the University of Wisconsin – Madison. Digitized Mar 13, 2008, p. 140).

The Queen mentioned above was Margaret who died in 1093. Margaret (who was technically “the Queen consort of Malcolm III”) was canonized a Roman Catholic saint in the year 1250 by Pope Innocent IV. Thus, once again political power was used to try to stop people from following the biblical practices of early Christianity.

Thomas Bampfield contended that the seventh day had been kept in England in unbroken succession until the thirteenth century (Ball B. Seventh Day Men: Sabbatarians and Sabbatarianism in England and Wales, 1600-1800, 2nd edition. James Clark & Co., 2009, p. 21).

It should be noted that because of practices of a few of the Lollards in the British Isles, some Sabbath-keeping would have apparently occurred from the thirteenth through seventeenth centuries (Ball, pp. 30-31 ), so it would have been unbroken for even more centuries that Thomas Bampfield contended about

Notice a that in 1719 England, John Ozell, a non-Sabbath-keeper wrote the following about some of the Sabbath-keepers: “…People, who go by the name Sabbatarian make Profession of expecting a Reign of a Thousand Years…These Sabbatarians are so called, because they will not remove the Day of Rest from Saturday to Sunday…They administer Baptism only to adult people…The major part of them will not eat Pork, nor blood…their outward conduct is pious and Christian-like (Ozell J. M. Mission Observations in His Travels over England. 1719. As cited in Ball, p. 9).

The Albigneses in France were condemned by various councils. And one, the Council of Albi (sometimes spelled Alby) in 1254 apparently stated: “They savour of Judaism…they observe the Jewish sabbath, but say that the holy Dominical day is no better than any other day; let them be accursed (Quoted in Davis, Tamar. A General History of the Sabbatarian Churches. 1851; Reprinted 1995 by Commonwealth Publishing, Salt Lake City, p. 64).

Others in France were also later subject to the inquisitors. Notice the following account:

On the 14th of September, 1492, about thirty persons were committed to the inquisitional dungeons of Toulouse upon a charge of Judaism…Of there was Anthony Ferrar, who had been a pastor or teacher in the Sabbatarian church of that city. After remaining in prision ten days, he received a visit from an Italian monk named Gregory…

Greg.–But Anthony, you must be a liar and a deceiver, for I have been credibly informed that yourself, and all of your friends, were of the cursed race of Israel.

An.–It is false, we were honest Frenchmen, and Christians, followers of Jesus…

An.–We say that the ten commandments are still binding.

Greg.–Yes, and instead of observing the festivals of the Holy Church, and honouring the holy day of the Lord, on which he rose from the dead, you were accustomed to meet for worship upon the old Sabbath, or Saturday.

An.–We did, indeed, rest and attend divine worship upon the seventh day, even as God commanded (Quoted in Davis, Tamar. A General History of the Sabbatarian Churches. 1851; Reprinted 1995 by Commonwealth Publishing, Salt Lake City, pp. 87-88).


Culdee Franciscan Professors of Oxford and Glastonbury

This order of Glastonbury Culdee Monks, being governed from Glastonbury and Oxford , were known for teaching Hebrew law throughout England and the world.

At the height of the global influence of the Franciscan Order from Glastonbury, the Sabbath was at the foundation of our teachings.

Roger Bacon the Franciscan Friar and Professor at Oxford was also renown as “Proctor of Glastonbury ”. His tomb at Glastonbury testifies to this fact.

The previous Bishops of Lincoln were all closely connected to Glastonbury, ie Hugh of Wells (part of Glastonbury ), Hugh of Avalon, etc. This all proves again Glastonbury being a main source of inspiration for Christendom Globally. (see our numerous Royal and Church Charters that affirm Glastonbury was independent and autonomous from all earthly powers, or any claimed heavenly institutions).

Gilbert of Bytham a successor of the great Oxford chancellor and teacher of the Hebrew law, “the Bishop of Lincoln, Robert Grossetste”. and his was the height of the Oxford Franciscan Priesthood (teaching Scriptural Hebrew law). Bytham was “Chancellor of Oxford ” and “Proctor of Glastonbury ”.

The Chancellor of Oxford at that time (Robert Grosseteste) expounded and testified often to these facts, for example, as cited by Coxe on Sabbath Laws and Sabbath Duties, 284, and Cook’s Historical and General View of Christianity, ii, 301: “The Great English Friar and Professor at Oxford (and Glastonbury Abbey), Roger Bacon in the thirteenth century, went under great efforts asserting that Christians should work and hold fairs on Sunday, while Saturday was the proper day for rest.” (emphasis added).

12th-13th Century Franciscans


The Grosseteste, the Chancellor at Oxford wrote in his letter “Mon. Franciscana” that our only true foundation is the Mosaic law (the rest are frauds), as he wrote:

“the foundation stones of the building of which you are the architects – and no one can find others or set others in the foundation – are the books of the prophets, amongst whom we must count Moses, the law-giver, and the books of the Apostoles and Evangelists. These foundation stones you place and set in the foundation of your building, when by the gift of discerning spirits you expound these books to your hearers according to the mind of the writers. Take heed therefore with all diligence not to put among the foundation stones, nor to use as foundation stones what are not such, lest the strength of your building, made to rest upon what is no true foundation, is first shaken and then falls to ruin”


The Lead Cleric(Proctor) of Glastonbury, Professor Roger Bacon, of the 13th Century Orthodox Celtic Church, had said this of Bishop Robert Grosseteste of Lincoln and Chancellor of Oxford, writing in Brewer, Mon. Franciscana, i, pp. Ixxx,:

“Grosseteste, the founder of this renowned body of teachers, cannot have failed to impress upon the mind of Roger Bacon his own veneration and love of Holy Scripture. Frequently, says Eccleston, the Bishop of Lincoln urged the friars to study and sedulously to occupy themselves in working at the Holy Bible.”


Nor were his exhortations confined to the circle of his immediate pupils among the Franciscans. As Chancellor of the University he addressed his letters to the teachers in the theological schools of Oxford, urging them to make the Bible the foundation of all their lectures.

“The skilful builder,” he says, “sees carefully that all the stones put into a foundation are really proper for the purpose; namely, that they are such as by their solidity are fit and useful to support the building to be raised upon them. You are the builders of the house of God, raising it upon the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets, etc.; and the foundation-stones of the building of which you are the architects — and no one can find others or set others in the foundation — are the books of the Prophets, amongst whom we must count Moses, the law-giver, and the books of the Apostles and Evangelists. These foundation-stones you place and set in the foundation of your building, when by the gift of discerning spirits you expound these books to your hearers according to the mind of the writers. Take heed therefore with all diligence not to put among the foundation stones, nor to use as foundation stones what are not such, lest the strength of your building, made to rest upon what is no true foundation, is first shaken and then falls to ruin. The most proper time, moreover, for placing and setting the said stones in the foundation (for there is a fitting time for laying the foundation and one for raising the building) is the morning hour when you commonly read your lectures. It is proper, therefore, that all your lectures be taken especially at that time, from the books of the Old or New Testament, lest otherwise what are not really foundation stones be laid as if they were.” Cf. Brewer, Mon. Franciscana, i, p. 64.

Numerous other successors of Bacon and Grosseteste at Oxford were also Culdees who held rank in Glastonbury. For example Gilbert of Bytham.


We must take heed, as the Chancellor Grosseteste wrote in his letter “Mon. Franciscana” that our only true foundation is the Mosaic law (the rest are frauds), as he wrote: “the foundation stones of the building of which you are the architects – and no one can find others or set others in the foundation – are the books of the prophets, amongst whom we must count Moses, the law-giver, and the books of the Apostoles and Evangelists. These foundation stones you place and set in the foundation of your building, when by the gift of discerning spirits you expound these books to your heareres according to the mind of the writters. Take heed therefore with all diligence not to put among the foundation stones, nor to use as foundation stones what are not such, lest the strenght of your building, made to rest upon what is no true foundation, is first shaken and then falls to ruin”

Lead Cleric of Glastonbury, Professor Roger Bacon, of the 13th Century Orthodox Celtic Church, had said this of Bishop Robert Grosseteste of Lincoln and Chancellor of Oxford, writing in Brewer, Mon. Franciscana, i, pp. Ixxx,: “Grosseteste, the founder of this renowned body of teachers, cannot have failed to impress upon the mind of Roger Bacon his own veneration and love of Holy Scripture. Frequently, says Eccleston, the Bishop of Lincohi urged the friars to study and sedulously to occupy themselves in working at the Holy Bible.” Nor were his exhortations confined to the circle of his immediate pupils among the Franciscans. As Chancellor of the University he addressed his letters to the teachers in the theological schools of Oxford, urging them to make the Bible the foundation of all their lectures. “The skilful builder,” he says, “sees carefully that all the stones put into a foundation are really proper for the purpose; namely, that they are such as by their solidity are fit and useful to support the building to be raised upon them. You are the builders of the house of God, raising it upon the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets, etc.; and the foundation-stones of the building of which you are the architects — and no one can find others or set others in the foundation — are the books of the Prophets, amongst whom we must count Moses, the law-giver, and the books of the Apostles and Evange- lists. These foundation-stones you place and set in the foundation of your building, when by the gift of discerning spirits you expound these books to your hearers according to the mind of the writers. Take heed therefore with all diligence not to put among the foundation stones, nor to use as foundation stones what are not such, lest the strength of your building, made to rest upon what is no true foundation, is first shaken and then falls to ruin. The most proper time, moreover, for placing and setting the said stones in the foundation (for there is a fitting time for laying the foundation and one for raising the building) is the morning hour when you commonly read your lectures. It is proper, therefore, that all your lectures be taken especially at that time, from the books of the Old or New Testament, lest otherwise what are not really foundation stones be laid as if they were.” Cf. Brewer, Mon. Franciscana, i, p. 64.  *


More Historical Witnesses

In Blair’s translation of the Catholic historian, Bellesheim, we read:

“We seem to see here an allusion to the custom, observed in the early monastic Church of Ireland, of keeping the day of rest on Saturday, or the Sabbath”– History of the Catholic Church in Scotland, Vol. I, p. 86. Professor James C. Moffatt, D. D.

Professor of Church History at Princeton, says: “It seems to have been customary in the Celtic churches of early times, in Ireland as well as Scotland, to keep Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath, as a day of rest from labor. They obeyed the fourth commandment literally upon the seventh day of the week.” The Church in Scotland, p. 140. Philadelphia:1882.

In “History of Scotland,” Vol. I, p. 96. Prof. Andrew Lang says:

“The Scottish Church, then, when Malcolm wedded the sainted English Margaret, was Celtic, and presented peculiarities odious to the English lady, strongly attached to the establishment as she knew it at home …. The Celtic priests must have disliked the interference of an Englishwoman. “First there was a difference in keeping Lent. The Kelts did not begin it on Ash Wednesday …. They worked on Sunday, but kept Saturday in a sabbatical manner”

In “Celtic Scotland ,” Vol. II, p. 349. Edinburgh: David Douglas, printer, 1877. William F. Skene says:

“Her next point was that they did not duly reverence the Lord’s day, but in this latter instance they seem to have followed a custom of which we find traces in the early Monastic Church of Ireland, by which they held Saturday to be the Sabbath on which they rested from all their labours.” Celtic Scotland, Vol. II, p. 349. Edinburgh: David Douglas, printer, 1877. “They held that Saturday was properly the Sabbath on which they abstained from work.”– Id., p. 350.

Michael Herren in his book “Christ in Celtic Christianity”, page 37, wrote: “…the Culdees not only kept the Sabbath on Saturday but they kept it in accordance with the Mosaic law.”

In “The Celtic Memory – Gaeldom Revisited”, Wayne Lawrence wrote: “The Celtic Sabbath (‘day of repose’) was celebrated on a Saturday, the last day of the week and Hebrew holy day.”

The Liber ex Lege Moisi (condensed version of the law of Moses), was distributed by Saint Patrick and his successors at every Celtic church, whether in England, Scotland or Ireland.

In Jamison’s “Ancient Culdees”, Chapter 2 “..like the priests under the law (Rabbis), they were succeeded by inheritance”, “..in the church of Saint Andrews the Culdees came into the office hereditarily”, “The Culdees of Ireland practiced hereditary succession, the Bishopric of Armagh, could demonstrate fifteen generations.”(more)

Flick (The Rise of the Medi’al Church, p. 237) says that: “The Celts used a Latin Bible unlike the Vulgate (R.C.) and kept Saturday as a day of rest, with special religious services on Sunday.”

Andrew Lang, in “A History of Scotland from the Roman Occupation”, Vol. I, p. 96, wrote: “In Scotland until the tenth and eleventh centuries it was asserted that: They worked on Sunday but kept Saturday in a Sabbatical manner … These things Margaret abolished. [Author’s note: She didn’t abolish Sabbath, the records say she only added Sunday to be celebrated alongside Saturday/Sabbath. Before she became Queen, the Scottish nation did not keep Sunday.]


Orthodox Churches Today Teaching Sabbath-keeping on Saturday


The Orthodox Break Their Fasts on Saturdays for the Sabbath

It is advertised everywhere that the Orthodox break their fasts in order to keep the Sabbath. Even during the great 40 day fast of Lent, the fasting is stopped in order to keep the Sabbath as a “Feast” unto YAHWEH (Leviticus 23 “these are My feasts for ever”) . The Sabbath remains a feast for ever. It is for this reason, and this reason alone that the orthodox will not fast on Sabbath.

Hundreds of Saintly authorities of the ancient church are quoted as standing up against their Western friends of Rome, refusing to do even the yearly fast when it lands on the Sabbaths of YAHWEH.

The 66th Canon of the Holy Apostles mandates that if any Clergy is found to be fasting on a Saturday they are to be deposed from office. Feasting is a commandment, just as is the assembling and worshiping together.

It is easily observed from various online publications that a great deal of Orthodox churches still observe and teach their assemblies to keep the Sabbaths. The Orthodox Celtic Churches (or Culdees) have probably the strongest links to the Sabbath. The Coptic Church is probably next in line, and then comes the rest who at least keep a text that admonishes all to rest. Even the Anglican and Episcopal churches have a collect for Saturdays in the weekly liturgy that confesses they are all abstaining from their work.

Here are some examples,


The Saint Anthony Great Coptic Church, under the doctrinal heading of “Coptic Feasts and Worship”, says, “Moses’ Law arranged seven major feasts (lev. 23), which had their rites and sanctity, as a living part of the common worship. These feasts are: the Sabbath or Saturday of every week, the first day of every month, the Seventh Year, the Year of Jubilee, the Passover (Pasch), the feast of the weeks (Pentecost), the feast of Tabernacles (feast of Harvest). After the Babylonian exile two feasts were added, ie., the feast of Purim and the Feast of Dedication. Almost all the days are feasts to the Coptic Church. “[Note: It is left to each local diocese to bear responsibility in teaching all of them to observe these feasts.]


Bishop Brian J. Kennedy of the Celtic Orthodox Church has published on-line detailed information which demonstrates that the Saturday Sabbath is vital to Orthodox Christians. They also make this statement: “The Celtic Orthodox Church has always placed great importance on Saturday worship as the Sabbath and on Sunday worship as the Lord’s Day. In the Celtic Orthodox Church, all Priests are obligated to offer the Mass on the Sabbath and on Sunday both. The laity are expected to fully participate on both days in the measure that may be possible.”


Father Alkivia dis Calivas, Professor Emeritus of Liturgics Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology in Brookline, MA. (Ordained in 1956 upon his graduation from Holy Cross, Fr. Calivas served as pastor of two large New York City parishes. A Holy Cross School of Theology faculty member since 1978, Fr. Calivas has served the School in various capacities, including Director of Student Life, Chaplain, Dean of the School of Theology, Dean of the College, Administrative Director and President. He has served on several Councils, Boards and Com missions of the Archdiocese and was elected President of the Presbyters Council of the Archdiocese when it was established in 1970. Fr. Calivas received his Doctor of Theology from the University of Thessaloníki in 1982. His publications include Come Before God in Prayer and Solemn Feast, Great Week and Pasha in the Greek Orthodox Church and a series of four volumes under the general title Essays in Theology and Liturgy. Under his articles for great Lent, he has written that they don’t fast during Sabbath:

“In the tradition of our Church, Saturday like Sunday is considered a festal day. Even during the Great Lent the rules of fasting are relaxed on Saturdays and Sundays”.


Rev. George Mastrantonis, of this same seminary, wrote this on keeping Saturday: “It is a disappointing phenomenon that religious people use Saturday and Sunday for their pleasures and relaxation and for many other activities which make the days rather unholy.” (Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America)


Bishop Alexander (Mileant), of The Holy Trinity Orthodox Mission published July 4th 2005, the following in support of the Sabbath: “It would behoove Orthodox Christians to rekindle within themselves the zeal of the Christians of the first centuries and be truly dedicated to the Lord on the seventh day by going to church and taking holy Communion. By doing this, they will attract to themselves the blessing of the Lord, and their other activities will become more profitable.”


St. Sophia Orthodox Church in Bellingham Washington in their statement of beliefs is found the following words:“St. Constantine the Great, the first Christian emperor, honored the Church’s practice of celebrating the Lord’s Resurrection every Sunday by decreeing, in AD 321, that every Sunday would be a holy day. For Orthodox Christians, Saturday is still the Sabbath, the day on which the Church especially remembers the departed, since Christ rested in the tomb on Great and Holy Saturday.”


Orthodox Theologian, Herman Blaydoe, American CarpathoRussian Orthodox Diocese (ACROD), Editor of the award winning Discussion Community Monachos.net, had recently wrote this on the Sabbath: “I think some people may believe that Sunday has replaced Saturday, but there really is no traditional support for that position. What I guess is really up for debate is the relative importance of the Sabbath and keeping it as a day of rest in relation to Sunday, and here I am certainly open to relevant pious opinion and local practice which may vary.”(Source: http://en.allexperts.com/q/Eastern-Orthodox-1456/Sabbath.htm December 31st, 2007


Archpriest John Udics, Rector of “Saints Peter and Paul Orthodox Church” in his 2011 announcement for Saturday work to be done on the temple, made the following admission, “We still keep the Sabbath, Subbota, Saturday, in a special Liturgical way.”


The Encyclopedia Britannica says this about the present Ethiopian Orthodox Church: “the church recognizes a wider canon of scripture that includes such texts as the apocalyptic First Book of Enoch. Circumcision is almost universally practiced; the Saturday Sabbath (in addition to Sunday) is observed by some devout believers;”


The American Orthodox Catholic Church, under Walter Propheta, a Ukrainian Orthodox Bishop, since 1964 has been registered as a Sabbath keeping church (Keeping both Saturday and Sunday). This included forming a new offshoot of Armstrong’s Worldwide Church of God.


The Armenian Cathedral of Saint James of Jerusalem [Coptic]holds mass on Sabbath (Saturday) while Sunday is treated as the rest of the days of the week.


Dr. Mugurdich Chojhauji Gabrielian, an Orthodox student at Marsovan Turkey, who later traved to the United States, earned his MD at Jefferson and graduated from his theology studies at Princeton. He authored three books. It was with great understanding he wrote of the situations of the Armenian church, “As one glances over the Armenian Church calendar he is struck not only by the array of sacred feasts, but also by their frequent and severe fasts. It is further noteworthy that they not only keep Sabbath in the commemoration of Christ, but Saturday also in memory of the finished work of creation.” (“Armenia, A Martyr Nation” pp.26,27)

A Collect for Saturdays
Almighty God, who after the creation of the world rested from all your works and sanctified a day of rest for all your creatures: Grant that we, putting away all earthly anxieties, may be duly prepared for the service of your sanctuary, and that our rest here upon earth may be a preparation for the eternal rest promised to your people in heaven; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (Episcopal and Anglican Book of Common Prayer).


While most scholars will concede that the primary issue of the Great Schism was on the matters of Sabbath keeping, very few regular Christians know this fact. Rome’s attempts to influence populations to have a seasonal fast on the Sabbath a day of fasting (when the Scripture commands it to be a feast) still has never really set it. It was formally contested during the entire time before the great schism. Patriarch Michael in 1054, reaffirmed his stance with the following declaration, that Christians are “commanded to honor the Sabbath . . . to keep [it] and not to work on it.”

To this day, the fourth commandment to “remember the Sabbath/Saturday, to keep it Holy/set apart”, is still taken seriously in the Orthodox church.


The Sabbath of YAHWEH, A Biblical Sign That we are His People

As originally published in “the Good News of the Kingdom Magazine”, of Watchman News.

January 27th, 2008

Day of the Crucifixion

The Most Foundational Reason for many churches using Sunday as the Sabbath is they believe Jesus died on Friday, and was in the grave during Sabbath, when there is no scripture for that whatsoever. [also see our article on Orthodox Doctrine for Wednesday Crucifixion, Sabbath Resurrection]

Let us pay careful attention to all the surrounding scriptures which paint a clear picture that He resurrected on the 7th Day of the Week, and that it would have been impossible for Him to have risen on the First Day of the week. Besides, no scripture says He rose on the 1st day, but it does say He was already missing while it was still dark at the end of the 7th day.

72 hours in the heart of the earth: Mat 12:40 “For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.”

Three days and three nights in the heart of the earth” would mean 72 hours. (Confirmation by Jesus is found in John 11:9: “are there not twelve hours in a day?” And twelve hours in a night = 24 hours.)
With these Biblical Presuppositions Jesus could not have died on Friday at 3PM because that would have meant He couldn’t raise for another 72 hours, which would have been Monday at 3PM. Besides, there is no scripture saying He died on Friday or the 6th Day of the week. It is only logical to use the Bible’s account to say He was crucified and died on that Wednesday.

Jesus was NOT Crucified on a Friday, but on the “Preparation of the Passover”. There are seven “High Sabbaths” every year, and the Passover always has a specific preparation day for the special ceremony which landed on Wednesday that year.

Just because the verses say it was a preparation day for “a Sabbath” doesn’t mean it was the weekly Sabbath. However, all the gospels do say it was the ANNUAL SABBATH CALLED PASSOVER.

Jhn 19:31 “The Jews therefore, because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the sabbath day, (for that sabbath day was an high day,) besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away.” This verse doesn’t say it was the 6th day of the week. However, it does say in context that it was the preparation of Passover:

Jhn 19:14 “And it was the preparation of the Passover, and about the sixth hour: and he saith unto the Jews, Behold your King!”

Where do these churches get it wrong calling this the Weekly Sabbath of Friday? If you read on you shall see it is an impossibility!

It can only make sense that Wednesday was the day of His crucifixion, at 3PM. He rose on the 7th Day Sabbath Day we know as Saturday at 3PM. The rest of the biblical accounts confirm His resurrection day was Sabbath, because they didn’t find Him in the empty tomb when it was even still Dark Sunday morning! If He was already gone before Sunday began, then this is more evidence He wasn’t crucified on Sabbath, and then already gone within 1 day. He had to stay in the grave three days AND three nights. They couldn’t find Him early in the wee hours of the morning, while it was still dark on Sunday because He had risen the previous day, on Sabbath, on schedule.

No verse in the scripture says that He arose ON the “first day”, but they all say He was already gone when they were there, BEFORE the First day had dawned!

Matthew 28:1 “In the end of the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulcher.”

Notice it says “in” the Sabbath, not “after”.

We know on God’s calendar the day starts at sundown, NOT AT MIDNIGHT. So in this passage it could actually mean that as it was starting*** to get dark Saturday Evening, that they went to the tomb and Christ was already gone. Since we know days start at Sundown according to the bible (from evening to evening: “From even unto even, shall ye celebrate your Sabbath” (Lev. 23:32) “And the evening and the morning were the first day.” (Gen 1:15). If the Sabbath was “dawning” that would normally mean it was evening.

Did People Lose Track of the Days of the Week?

The next typical argument from those beholden to the First day Sabbath is they say is after all these centuries, surely they most have lost track of the days of the week. They never produce any evidence proving this wrongful assumption. God’s word and history is the best determining factor on this situation.

There have always been a remnant of His people keeping the Seventh day Saturday Sabbath, in every Christian and post-Christian nation of the world. There is innumerable proofs that in the first centuries after Christ the week was heavily guarded. So many ancient texts and services that even deal with the hours, how to worship etc. You can even see that in the Dead Sea scrolls. I personally have photograph copies of very accurate Celtic Calendars that date back centuries before Christ. These were done in stone and preserved well. We know they never lost track of the 7 days of the week. Christ couldn’t have lost track of which day was the 7th day either if He was to keep the Sabbath day. If He and those in the 1st Century couldn’t lose track of it, neither could the rest. It can be found that people were more educated and advanced in earlier times in many ways more than now. However, these days they say we are even smarter, so why would anyone doubt that such orthodox communities would lose track of the days of the week? When there’s ample proof they guarded the days, hours and months with such tenacity.

Exodus 31:12 “And YAHWEH spake unto Moses, saying, Speak thou also unto the children of Israel, saying, Verily my Sabbaths ye shall keep: for it is a sign between me and you throughout your generations; that ye may know that I am YAHWEH that doth sanctify you. Ye shall keep the Sabbath therefore; for it is holy unto you: every one that defileth it shall surely be put to death: for whosoever doeth any work therein, that soul shall be cut off from among his people. Six days may work be done; but in the seventh is the Sabbath of rest, holy to YAHWEH: whosoever doeth any work in the Sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death. Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, to observe the Sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant. It is a sign between me and the children of Israel for ever: for in six days YAHWEH made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed.”

See Lev 23, Deut 5:14, Exod 20:10-11 and notice it says it is not Israel’s Sabbath, but it is “The Sabbath(s) of YAHWEH”, as it says it is Holy unto YAHWEH and it’s a commandment for Israel throughout all their generations, FOR EVER. If you believe it was the 7th Day YAHWEH rested and not the first day then we also must acknowledge the Sabbath is only on the 7th day.

For Our Good

The Sabbath is a joy and delight. It is “made for man”, made for our own good and betterment. As it says, none of God’s commandments are grievous, but have all been called LIBERTY and true Freedom which we rejoice in, just as King David and Solomon declared.

1John 5:3: “For this is the love of YAHWEH, that we keep His commandments: and His commandments are not grievous.”

Breaking Bread Daily Didn’t Change Sabbath

A lot of churches use the one scripture where they broke bread on “the first day” as Paul was leaving for a mission; But what they don’t talk about is Acts 2:46, “they broke bread DAILY FROM HOUSE TO HOUSE”.

Any time Hebrew men gather together, to this day, they break bread and wine for a form of Kiddush, and Bless the cup, as Paul had referred to as “the cup of YAHWEH”. This expanded in the principle of breaking bread, as foretelling our Saviour was in the Weekly Sabbath for families as well as for assemblies, all referring to the cup and bread that Christ became for us.

In the book of Acts it’s that the early Apostles and Disciples kept the Sabbath on the 7th day 84 times, and not one time was the First Day of the week called “Sabbath” anywhere in the New Testament Scripture. […article excerpted…]

It is easily shown from scripture that there are many Sabbaths PLURAL, and the only logical conclusion is the “Sabbath” that Jesus was crucified on was not, and could not have been the weekly Sabbath but one of the Annual Sabbaths. i.e.: Lev 23:24 Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, In the seventh month, in the first day of the month, shall ye have a Sabbath, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, an holy convocation.” This is talking about the Annual Sabbaths, not the weekly Sabbath.

All of God’s feasts are called High Sabbaths and will forever be called Sabbaths, even in the new heavens and new earth: Isa 66:22-23 “For as the new heavens and the new earth, which I will make, shall remain before me, saith YAHWEH, so shall your seed and your name remain. And it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to another, and from one Sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith YAHWEH.”

It says in Zechariah 14 that even in the new heavens and new earth the Egyptians will be required to keep the feast of Tabernacles, and if they do not they will not get rain on their land. We today should also keep proper language in our dialogues concerning the Sabbaths of God.

It is a Great Blessing

Many churches have been greatly blessed for moving from the First Day “Sunday” to the 7th Day Biblical Sabbath “Saturday” as their primary day of worship. A viewpoint also on the issue of the Sabbath is in regards to blessings (Isa 58:13-14) “If you delight yourself in the Sabbath,… I will cause you to ride on the high places of the earth” Matt 5:19 “if you keep the least of my commandments and teach men to keep them you’ll be called great in the kingdom of heaven, but if you break the least of my commandments and teach men to break them you’ll be called the least in the kingdom of heaven.”

So it is about rewards and being more set free, not about your spiritual salvation of going to heaven. Our spiritual salvation is only accomplished by receiving the the blood penalty accomplished by our Savior Jesus Christ. Being sanctified and growing in the spirit only is experienced by the extents we line up with the exact word of God.


There Remains a Sabbath Rest for the People of God, 

Some good points can be gleaned from the following chapters. Mainly reiterating Sabbath is God’s day, not our day to pick and choose. Also that Christ never spoke of a different day. It says Sabbath is the day we hear His voice.

Hebrews Chapter 2-4: 

“2:1 Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let [them] slip. 2 For if the word spoken by angels was stedfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompence of reward; 3 How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard [him]; 4 God also bearing [them] witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will? 5 For unto the angels hath he not put in subjection the world to come, whereof we speak. 6 But one in a certain place testified, saying, What is man, that thou art mindful of him? or the son of man, that thou visitest him? 7 Thou madest him a little lower than the angels; thou crownedst him with glory and honour, and didst set him over the works of thy hands: 8 Thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet. For in that he put all in subjection under him, he left nothing [that is] not put under him. But now we see not yet all things put under him. 9 But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man. 10 For it became him, for whom [are] all things, and by whom [are] all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. 11 For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified [are] all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren, 12 Saying, I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee. 13 And again, I will put my trust in him. And again, Behold I and the children which God hath given me. 14 Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; 15 And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. 16 For verily he took not on [him the nature of] angels; but he took on [him] the seed of Abraham. 17 Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto [his] brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things [pertaining] to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. 18 For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted.

“Chapter 3:1 Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus; 2 Who was faithful to him that appointed him, as also Moses [was faithful] in all his house. 3 For this [man] was counted worthy of more glory than Moses, inasmuch as he who hath builded the house hath more honour than the house. 4 For every house is builded by some [man]; but he that built all things [is] God. 5 And Moses verily [was] faithful in all his house, as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken after; 6 But Christ as a son over his own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end. 7 Wherefore (as the Holy Ghost saith, To day if ye will hear his voice, 8 Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness: 9 When your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my works forty years. 10 Wherefore I was grieved with that generation, and said, They do alway err in [their] heart; and they have not known my ways. 11 So I sware in my wrath, They shall not enter into my rest.) 12 Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. 13 But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. 14 For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end; 15 While it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation. 16 For some, when they had heard, did provoke: howbeit not all that came out of Egypt by Moses. 17 But with whom was he grieved forty years? [was it] not with them that had sinned, whose carcases fell in the wilderness? 18 And to whom sware he that they should not enter into his rest, but to them that believed not? 19 So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.

“Chapter 4:1 Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left [us] of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it. 2 For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard [it]. 3 For we which have believed do enter into rest, as he said, As I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world. 4 For he spake in a certain place of the seventh [day] on this wise, And God did rest the seventh day from all his works. 5 And in this [place] again, If they shall enter into my rest. 6 Seeing therefore it remaineth that some must enter therein, and they to whom it was first preached entered not in because of unbelief: 7 Again, he limiteth a certain day, saying in David, To day, after so long a time; as it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts. 8 For if Jesus had given them rest, then would he not afterward have spoken of another day. 9 There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. 10 For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God [did] from his. 11 Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief. 12 For the word of God [is] quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and [is] a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. 13 Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things [are] naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do. 14 Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast [our] profession. 15 For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as [we are, yet] without sin. 16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.”

This booklet was authored by Archbishop Stephen Michael K., Orthodox Church of the Culdees. coat-arms-orthodox-church-culdees-archbishop

Note from His Eminence ++Archbishop Dr. Stephen Michael:

After about a decade of research I’ve undertaken to publish this booklet which took about 5 years to complete. It is in a series of booklets on Sabbath keeping, Dietary laws, and Hebrew festivals in the Celtic and Orthodox church. Some people are shocked to find it was, is, and will continue to be so prevalent in the Christian (and post Christian) Israelite descended nations. We should not be surprised by any of this. YAHWEH has preserved the national “sign” in every generation of His church these last 2,000 years.

Exo 31:17 “It (the Sabbath) is a sign between me and the children of Israel for ever: for in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed.”

As we go through the examples we’re reminded that “There is no private interpretation” but His truth of which day His Sabbath falls upon has been clear to all in the mainstream part of the church. For those who were ignorant to it, our great God still preserved this Biblical Israelite sign of the Sabbath within the tradition called “weekends”. On weekends everyone who lives in the true Israelite descended nations have always had an opportunity to keep all the Biblical days as it says in the Didascalia “Constitutions of the Apostles”(circa 250AD). As it says, to be free from work, hold it as a festival and receive instruction in God’s laws at church. Most churches have Saturday services as well. Having both days has always been fundamental to the Orthodox and Celtic faith.

The Didascalia not only tells us the services for Sabbaths and annual feasts, but it also tells us the way to start the Hebrew New Year. The year starts on the first visible new moon after the spring equinox. Don’t be fooled by new heretical calendars and so-called “ancient” traditions that nobody has heard of in any generation. A Commandment so Great as to be cataloged in the “BIG TEN COMMANDMENTS” would never be a mystery of which day it is, not to any one of His people, in any generation. However it will be widely and chiefly held and known as central to their faith, by the whole nation, whether in rebellion or in obedience. A commandment that even carries the death penalty would not be an unknown mystery for any span of years. People everywhere have known about Sabbath being Saturday, and it is official in most churches of the whole world. It is one of the sign of our status as His great and mighty Israel nations (See also Romans 9:3-5). We have truly been blessed to have the benefit of the Sabbath in our lands.

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