Early Church on Sunday
The Didache | 90 AD
"But every Lord’s day, do ye gather yourselves together, and break bread, and give thanksgiving after having confessed your transgressions, that your sacrifice may be pure. But let no one that is at variance with his fellow come together with you, until they be reconciled, that your sacrifice may not be profaned. For this is that which was spoken by the Lord (Matthew 5:23-24)."
THE TEACHING OF THE TWELVE APOSTLES, CHAP. 14:1, ANTE-NICENE FATHERS VOL. 7, PAGE 381
The Epistle of Barnabas | 100 AD
"Moreover God says to the Jews, ‘Your new moons and Sabbaths cannot endure.’ You see how he says, ‘The present Sabbaths are not acceptable to me, but the Sabbath which I have made in which, when I have rested from all things, I will make the beginning of the eighth day which is the beginning of another world.’ Wherefore we Christians keep the eighth day for joy, on which also Jesus arose from the dead and when he appeared ascended into heaven."
EPISTLE OF BARNABAS, 15.6-8; 100 AD, ANTE-NICENE FATHERS, VOL. 1, PG. 14
Ignatius of Antioch | 107 AD
"Be not deceived with strange doctrines, nor with old fables, which are unprofitable. For if we still live according to the Jewish law, we acknowledge that we have not received grace…If, therefore, those who were brought up in the ancient order of things have come to the possession of a new hope, no longer observing the Sabbath, but living in the observance of the Lord’s Day, on which also our life has sprung up again by Him and by His death (which some deny), through which mystery we received faith, and on account of which we suffer in order that we may be found disciples of Jesus Christ our only teacher, how shall we be able to live apart from him for whom even the prophets were looking as their teacher since they were his disciples in the spirit?…let every friend of Christ keep the Lord’s Day as a festival, the resurrection-day, the queen and chief of all the days of the week. It is absurd to speak of Jesus Christ with the tongue, and to cherish in the mind a Judaism which has now come to an end. For where there is Christianity there cannot be Judaism…These things I address to you, my beloved, not that I know any of you to be in such a state; but, as less than any of you, I desire to guard you beforehand, that ye fall not upon the hooks of vain doctrine, but that you may rather attain to a full assurance in Christ…"
EPISTLE TO THE MAGNESIANS, CH 9. ANTE-NICENE FATHERS , VOL. 1, PG. 62-63
Justin Martyr | 150 AD
"…those who have persecuted and do persecute Christ, if they do not repent, shall not inherit anything on the holy mountain. But the Gentiles, who have believed on Him, and have repented of the sins which they have committed, they shall receive the inheritance along with the patriarchs and the prophets, and the just men who are descended from Jacob, even although they neither keep the Sabbath, nor are circumcised, nor observe the feasts. Assuredly they shall receive the holy inheritance of God."
DIALOGUE WITH TRYPHO THE JEW, 150-165 AD, ANTE-NICENE FATHERS , VOL. 1, PAGE 207
"But if we do not admit this, we shall be liable to fall into foolish opinion, as if it were not the same God who existed in the times of Enoch and all the rest, who neither were circumcised after the flesh, nor observed Sabbaths, nor any other rites, seeing that Moses enjoined such observances… For if there was no need of circumcision before Abraham, or of the observance of Sabbaths, of feasts and sacrifices, before Moses; no more need is there of them now, after that, according to the will of God, Jesus Christ the Son of God has been born without sin, of a virgin sprung from the stock of Abraham."
DIALOGUE WITH TRYPHO THE JEW, 150-165 AD, ANTE-NICENE FATHERS , VOL. 1, PAGE 206
"There is no other thing for which you blame us, my friends, is there than this? That we do not live according to the Law, nor, are we circumcised in the flesh as your forefathers, nor do we observe the Sabbath as you do."
DIALOGUE WITH TRYPHO 10:1
"The commandment of circumcision, requiring them always to circumcise the children on the eighth day, was a type of the true circumcision by which we are circumcised from error and evil through the resurrection from the dead on the first day of the week of Jesus Christ our Lord. For the first day of the week, although it is the first of all days, yet according to the number of the days in a cycle is called the eighth (while still remaining the first)."
DIALOGUE WITH TRYPHO 41:4
"But Sunday is the day on which we hold our common assembly, because it is the first day of the week and Jesus our saviour on the same day rose from the dead."
FIRST APOLOGY OF JUSTIN, CH. 68
"We are always together with one another. And for all the things with which we are supplied we bless the Maker of all through his Son Jesus Christ and through his Holy Spirit. And on the day called Sunday there is a gathering together in the same place of all who live in a city or a rural district. (There follows an account of a Christian worship service, which is quoted in VII.2.) We all make our assembly in common on the day of the Sun, since it is the first day, on which God changed the darkness and matter and made the world, and Jesus Christ our Savior arose from the dead on the same day. For they crucified him on the day before Saturn’s day, and on the day after (which is the day of the Sun) he appeared to his apostles and taught his disciples these things."
APOLOGY, 1, 67:1-3, 7; FIRST APOLOGY, 145 AD, ANTE-NICENE FATHERS, VOL. 1, PG. 186
Clement Of Alexandria | 190 AD
"For it is the highest achievement for one who has had trial of it, afterwards to abstain. For what great thing is it, if a man restrains himself in what he knows not? He, in fulfilment of the precept, according to the Gospel, keeps the Lord’s day, when he abandons an evil disposition, and assumes that of the Gnostic, glorifying the Lord’s resurrection in himself."
THE STROMATA, BOOK VII, CHAPTER XII
Bardesanes | 200 AD
"Wherever we are, we are all called after the one name of Christ Christians. On one day, the first of the week, we assemble ourselves together."
BARDESANES, ON FATE, 5
Tertullian | 200 AD
"We solemnize the day after Saturday in contradistinction to those [the Jews] who call this day their Sabbath."
TERTULLIAN’S APOLOGY, CH. 16
"It follows, accordingly, that, in so far as the abolition of carnal circumcision and of the old law is demonstrated as having been consummated at its specific times, so also the observance of the [seventh day] Sabbath is demonstrated to have been temporary."
AN ANSWER TO THE JEWS 4:1, ANTE-NICENE FATHERS VOL. 3, PAGE 155
"Others…suppose that the sun is the god of the Christians, because it is well-known that we regard Sunday as a day of joy."
TO THE NATIONS 1: 133
Origen | 220 AD
"On Sunday none of the actions of the world should be done. If then, you abstain from all the works of this world and keep yourselves free for spiritual things, go to church, listen to the readings and divine homilies, meditate on heavenly things."
HOMIL. 23 IN NUMEROS 4, PG 12:749
"Hence it is not possible that the [day of] rest after the sabbath should have come into existence from the seventh [day] of our God. On the contrary, it is our Savior who, after the pattern of his own rest, caused us to be made in the likeness of his death, and hence also of his resurrection."
COMMENTARY ON JOHN 2:28
Didascalia Apostolorum | 225 AD
"The apostles further appointed: On the first day of the week let there be service, and the reading of the Holy Scriptures, and the oblation, because on the first day of the week our Lord rose from the place of the dead, and on the first day of the week he arose upon the world, and on the first day of the week he ascended up to heaven, and on the first day of the week he will appear at last with the angels of heaven."
Cyprian | 250 AD
"The eighth day, that is, the first day after the Sabbath, and the Lord’s Day."
EPISTLE 58, SECTION 4
Victorinus | 300 AD
"The sixth day is called parasceve, that is to say, the preparation of the kingdom…On this day also, on account of the passion of the Lord Jesus Christ, we make either a station to God or a fast. On the seventh day he rested from all his works, and blessed it, and sanctified it. On the former day we are accustomed to fast rigorously, that on the Lord’s day we may go forth to our bread with giving of thanks. And let the parasceve become a rigorous fast, lest we should appear to observe any sabbath with the Jews…which sabbath he [Christ] in his body abolished."
GAIUS MARIUS VICTORINUS, THE CREATION OF THE WORLD
Eusebius of Caesarea | 300 AD
"They did not, therefore, regard circumcision, nor observe the Sabbath neither do we;…because such things as these do not belong to Christians."
ECCLESIASTICAL HISTORY, BOOK 1, CH. 4
"[The Ebionites] were accustomed to observe the Sabbath and other Jewish customs but on the Lord’s days to celebrate the same practices as we in remembrance of the resurrection of the Savior."
CHURCH HISTORY III, BOOK XXVII
"The day of his [Christ’s] light…was the day of his resurrection from the dead, which they say, as being the one and only truly holy day and the Lord’s day, is better than any number of days as we ordinarily understand them, and better than the days set apart by the Mosaic Law for feasts, new moons, and sabbaths, which the Apostle [Paul] teaches are the shadow of days and not days in reality."
PROOF OF THE GOSPEL 4:16:186
"The Word [Christ], by the New Covenant, translated and transferred the feast of the Sabbath to the morning light, and gave to us the image of the true rest, the day of salvation, the Lord’s Day, the first of the light, on which the Savior of the world, after all His labors among men, obtained the victory over death, and passed the portals of heaven, having achieved a work superior to the six days’ creation on this day, and received the divine Sabbath and blessed rest, when the Father said to Him, ‘Sit at My right hand, until I make all of your enemies your footstool.’ On that day, which is the first of light and of the true Sun, we also assemble, after an interval of six days, and celebrate holy and spiritual Sabbaths."
COMMENTARY ON PSALM 92
Athanasius | 345 AD
"The sabbath was the end of the first creation, the Lord’s day was the beginning of the second [New Creation], in which he renewed and restored the old in the same way as he prescribed that they should formerly observe the sabbath as a memorial of the end of the first things, so we honor the Lord’s day as being the memorial of the new creation."
ON SABBATH AND CIRCUMCISION 3
Cyril of Jerusalem | 350 AD
"Fall not away either into the sect of the Samaritans or into Judaism, for Jesus Christ has henceforth ransomed you. Stand aloof from all observance of sabbaths and from calling any indifferent meats common or unclean."
CATECHETICAL LECTURES 4:37
John Chrysostom | 387 AD
"You have put on Christ, you have become a member of the Lord and been enrolled in the heavenly city, and you still grovel in the Law [of Moses]? How is it possible for you to obtain the kingdom? Listen to Paul’s words, that the observance of the Law overthrows the gospel, and learn, if you will, how this comes to pass, and tremble, and shun this pitfall. Why do you keep the sabbath and fast with the Jews?"
HOMILIES ON GALATIANS 2:17
"The rite of circumcision was venerable in the Jews’ account, forasmuch as the Law itself gave way thereto, and the sabbath was less esteemed than circumcision. For that circumcision might be performed, the sabbath was broken; but that the sabbath might be kept, circumcision was never broken; and mark, I pray, the dispensation of God. This is found to be even more solemn that the sabbath, as not being omitted at certain times. When then it [circumcision] is done away, much more is the sabbath."
HOMILIES ON PHILIPPIANS 10
Questions that Challenge Your Current Understanding
- The early church teachings emphasize the significance of the Lord's Day (Sunday) as a day of celebration and resurrection. How does this align with your personal and communal worship practices?
- The resurrection is consistently highlighted as the primary reason for the significance of the Lord's Day. How does the resurrection influence your understanding of Sabbath and worship?
- Reflecting on all the provided content, do you feel there's a need to re-evaluate or adjust your current practices and understanding related to Sabbath observance and the Lord's Day? Why or why not?