More than 40 Early Church Fathers are cited herein as advocates for keeping Sabbath on Saturday.
Copyright © 2008, 2013, 2018, 2020 All Rights Reserved.
The Sabbath in the True Orthodox Church
Rev. Stephen M.K. Brunswick
Primace, Orthodox Church of the Culdees
- Herein is demonstrated how the Eastern and Western Orthodox Church has continuously maintained that the Sabbath of God is to be observed on Saturday.
- 40+ Early Church Fathers are quoted advocating our Saturday Sabbath festivals.
- The established traditions of the Saturday Sabbath are guarded in all true Orthodox Christian Nations; both to rest on it and celebrate it.
- Illuminating all to know of this wonderful perpetual feast day for all of God’s true Israel Christendom to enjoy.
Copyright © 2008, 2013, 2018, and 2020. All Rights Reserved.
St Andrew’s and St Joseph’s Orthodox Church of the Culdees, ArchDiocese of Salem.
Published in Brotherly cooperation with:
The Culdees of Glastonbury England and of Dál Riata Scotland
the Restoration Ministries of Pastor Leroy Crouch
the Russian Catacomb Church of True Orthodox Christians
the Anglican Orthodox Christian Communion Church
the Order of Saint Benedict (Western Orthodox)
the American Orthodox Catholic Church International
the Antiochian Orthodox Church of St Peter and St Paul
the Templar of Gothia (and other House Orders of Wolfenbüttel-Brunswick)
the Priory of Salem – Institute of Peace Studies
the House of Joseph Ministries of Rev Jeff Smith
the Continuing Church of God
the Church of God 7th Day
the Seventh Day Baptist Church
the Celtic Orthodox Church at France
the Celtic Orthodox Church at Wales
Table of Contents
✞ FOREWORD ✞
✞ INTRODUCTION ✞
✞ The Early Orthodox Church Kept the Sabbath ✞
✞ The Great Schism of 1054 AD Between the Eastern Orthodox and the Western Papists ✞
✞ Orthodox Sabbath-keeping Historically Taught to be Saturday ✞
✞ The Didache, Ignatius, and the Sabbath ✞
✞ The Orthodox Doctrine of Wednesday Crucifixion and Sabbath Resurrection ✞
✞ Church Fathers Indicate That 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 ✞
✞ Conclusion ✞
✞ Appendix ✞
There is a popular doctrine going around which says that the Christian nations of God had totally forgotten the Sabbath of God. They say somehow the church lost its way for some 1700 years to only start believing in the Sabbath again fairly recently. After reading this book you should see that the popular doctrine is false, and you will know that the true Biblical orthodox Sabbath (known as Saturday) has been retained chiefly among the Christian nations. This book should remove any doubt from your mind in this area.
While the official Christian Orthodox doctrine remains, that Saturday is the Sabbath and must be kept holy, many popular (well-funded) churches have drifted to put more emphasis on Sunday. However, money and popularity has never been the basis of our religion. The narrow road that leads to life has remained, and in every generation the Scriptures defining Sabbath have not been of any private interpretation but are known by all. The victory remains that the Saturday Sabbath of God is still taught as a major requirement within the teachings in each branch of the Orthodox Christian faith, and at least in the official written doctrines.
While it is acknowledged by all, very few churches have continued keeping it holy. Some Orthodox who still keep it correctly on Saturday today, would be for example the pre-1960’s greater “True Orthodox Church”, much of the Anglican or Celtic Orthodox, the Molokan Russian Orthodox, Seventh Day Baptists who all were founded by non-Conformist Anglican Orthodox, the Mennonites, the Orthodox Congregationalists, the Church of God, several jurisdictions of the True Orthodox, ie: Church of the Goths, Church of the Culdees, the Catacomb Church, etc. There are also plenty of Protestant based Sabbatarians who may also have orthodox liturgy and teachings, but not so focused on Orthodox that don’t have a canonical connection. For example, coming out of the later branches of Congregationalists. This book can hopefully help bring a unity among all Sabbath keeping Christians. While we do agree the Holy Spirit will move in mysterious ways, most all will acknowledge the greater orthodox church body of Christ, which is all one body. In this book we are primarily disclosing the 7th day Orthodox Church practices, as continually handed down through the ages.
The most pivotal doctrine of our faith is the Gospel, meaning the belief in Christ’s death, burial, and Resurrection (1Cor 15:3). This leading belief in the Gospel, unites us all as one body of Christians in Christ. We are all one body when we begin acting on that faith, turning from sin, dedicating our lives to Him, getting baptized, and taking the Communion Sacraments as our King commanded. The main doctrines such as these, that are laid out in the Nicean (or Apostles) Creed unites all Christians worldwide. Let’s celebrate it and build bridges on this single most important part of our doctrine, the faith in Jesus (Yahshua) the Christ.
In this book you’ll learn of several historic foundational texts of the church that prescribe the rightful keeping of the Sabbath. The Apostles’ Didascalaia is one that is followed as canonical by several branches of the church. The Didascalia even goes as far as prescribing Saturday practices above Sunday in fine detail.
We must remind that this teaching isn’t exclusive to the Eastern Orthodox Churches. The Culdean Scottish guarded Saturday, keeping it, and Saturday remained a work day. These quotes are throughout the book, in fine detail.
As I quote from numerous authorities, you will find that at the heart of the Great Schism breakaway from the Western Latin Pope, that this Sabbath point was most pivotal. However the overall Orthodox unity with Rome was never that strong anyhow. To most the pope was seen just as one of any other normal jurisdiction of a Bishop. He wasn’t held higher than any other. Many of the Early Church Councils didn’t even invite Rome.
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 are abstaining from work on Saturdays, and keep it holy in a liturgical way. This was core to the British Orthodox legacy of continually maintaining independence from Rome. While in the introduction to the Book of Common Prayer it describes the local bishops as responsible to include as many feasts as possible (as there is availability of ministers). 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.
Countless points such as these have been forgotten. In this article we will help bring them back to the light and be celebrated. 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. In any case we should all rejoice that we have a God who keeps covenant with His covenant people, and we should praise Him greatly as all the Scriptures tell us to do in these great themes of His kingdom law governance that is to be done on earth as in heaven. We should all pray and hope that churches and communities will go forward in faith, bringing back that first century evangelistic fire of the God of Israel working in His covenant body and bride.
This booklet should be an encouragement to any Christian who already keeps Sabbath, and it may just serve to advance those who are still unsure of making the complete switch to the Sabbath in an orthodox way. 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.
Herein you will see it remains a victorious truth that in many assemblies today, the Orthodox Clergy have continually taught that each home keeps the Sabbath as well as 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. A full turning away from all sin and all things of the devil as we have all been commanded.
These days the non-believers and apostates never knew we had such prayers to renounce sin. That’s to their own shame. However, within the obedient church of God, even the newest of converts will be well-aware of these great victories for our homes and communities in Christ. 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 and heart’s joy to obey it).
The Saturday Sabbath may not be as popular as it once was, but it is prophesied to make a comeback among Orthodox Christians. The adherence 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 remained prevalent in numerous Western church branches (under heavy persecution). However, this book is primarily dedicated on showing how the rest of the Orthodox have continued upholding the Sabbath. We 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. We should not leave out some parts of the council that agreed the Sabbath should be kept while only quoting the ones which appear only to forbid a version particular version of Saturday/Sabbath keeping “when it is done in a Judaizing manner”. We will quote some of those canons later on in this book.
Most Orthodox do not even embrace five out of the seven ecumenical councils. Much of the Orthodox world typically claims only to adhere to three of the councils. So even if one of the big seven ecumenical councils did in fact disregard Sabbath entirely then it would still be a moot point. However, that never happened. Yet even still if it did, clearly there are in all the texts a responsibility handed down to the local Bishops and their local Dioceses to keep the services going on Saturdays as they have priests available. This is evident in many of the established liturgies, like Saint Basil(the Holy Apostle St James Liturgy), and even the Western Sarum Missal, (the English Liturgy, BCP), these all have assumptions Saturday is kept in a Sabbatical way. We will get into these further in this book. The Divine Liturgy of St Basil contains major declarations of the blessings on the Holy Sabbath of God on Saturday (the 7th day of the week). While the English BCP does have Collects for Saturday explicitly outlining our adherence to the Sabbath, in the Preface it mentions many of the festal celebrations aren’t included in the book. It says these can differ per congregation depending on the availability of ministers, and to check with your local Bishop or Archbishop if any further questions arise for the additional services. There is always much autonomy provided for, and responsibility assumed, for each local Diocese that administers the Sacraments to the people, to ensure they are striving to grow the feasts.
There are no major councils rejecting the Sabbath, and even the minor councils have stopped short, citing only if the Saturday should be kept with Christian liturgies and not the Jewish. Yet herein this book you’ll find that often some of the most important jurisdictions were given this label of Judaizing and being ignorant of Sunday and other non-Hebrew days etc. Even the Seventh Ecumenical Council never attacked Sabbath. However, they reiterated that only the ones doing Jewish traditions secretly (on top of the normal Saturday services) are to be pushed back completely into Judaism and excluded from the Christian church services. Yet still the council still regarded Sabbath a Holy day, but just admonished all to keep it in the Christian way. The canon therein just called for a 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, but after being baptized in the orthodox church had retained several distinguishing parts of Judaism. It merely says that in those cases they should go back to their religion and be fully openly Jews. This was a reiteration of earlier councils who said the same, while still admonishing Christians to keep Saturday as a day of rest, or worship, hearing the Scriptures in church, and of course the mandatory feasting. Yet still this council wasn’t widely accepted and didn’t reach our Orthodox Celtic jurisdictions.
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.
Trullo was no minor Church Council. Emperor Justinian convoked the Council, at which 211 Bishops attended, of whom the principal were the four Patriarchs, Paul of Constantinople, Peter of Alexandria, Anastasius of Jerusalem, George of Antioch. Next in the subscriptions are named John of Justinianopolis, Cyriacus of Cesarea in Cappadocia, Basil of Gortyna in Crete.
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 remained 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 (Exo 31:13). This has been preserved in Christian nations in the term “weekend”. We all know that weekends are not the typical workdays. 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)
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