Thoughts of a Pastor-Historian


This is the third in a series of four posts on the Sabbath/Lord’s Day issue. The first post was a survey of the pertinent Scriptural passages related to this subject. The second post was a survey of how views on this subject have developed throughout church history. This is a list of quotations from the early church fathers which I believe support my thesis. The final post will feature a bibliography for further study on this topic. As referenced in the previous post, here is a list of quotes from the early church fathers on the Sabbath/Lord’s Day issue. The first is a quote from John Calvin on the early church fathers view of the Sabbath/Lord’s Day. Following is a series of quotes beginning with the 5th century and moving backwards to the first century New Testament authors. I think a clear pattern can be observed by the early church father’s statements on this issue which shows that they did not equate the Christian “Lord’s Day” with the Jewish Sabbath.

John Calvin on the Early Church Fathers on the Sabbath/Lord’s Day Issue
However, the ancients did not substitute the Lord’s Day (as we call it) for the Sabbath without careful discrimination. The purpose and fulfillment of that true rest, represented by the ancient Sabbath, lies in the Lord’s resurrection. Hence, by the very day that brought the shadows to an end, Christians are warned not to cling to the shadow rite.”
John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, trans. Ford Lewis Battles (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1960), 1:399-400.

5th Century
St. Augustine:
“The day now known as the Lord’s Day, the eighth, namely, which is also the first day of the week.” St. Augustine, Letters of St. Augustine, 55, Chapter XIII.

4th Century A.D. 306
Peter, Bishop of Alexandria in Egypt:
“But the Lord’s Day we celebrate as a day of joy, because on it, he rose again.” Canon 15.

3rd Century A.D. 270
Anatolius, Bishop of Laodicea, in Asia Minor:
“Our regard for the Lord’s resurrection which took place on the Lord’s Day will lead us to celebrate it.” Chapter X.

3rd Century About A.D. 250
The Apostolic Constitution:
“On the day of our Lord’s resurrection, which is the Lord’s Day, meet more diligently.”
Book 2, sec. 7.

3rd Century A.D. 250
Cyprian, Bishop of Carthage in Africa:
“The eighth day, that is, the first day after the Sabbath and the Lord’s Day.” Epistle 58, section 4.

2nd Century A.D. 200
Tertullian in Africa:
“We solemnize the day after Saturday in contradiction to those who call this day their Sabbath.” Apology, Chapter XVI.

2nd Century A.D. 194
Clement of Alexandria, Egypt:
“He, in fulfillment 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.” Book 7, Chapter XII.

2nd Century A.D. 140
Justin Martyr:
“But Sunday is the day which we all hold our common assembly, because Jesus Christ, our Saviour, on the same day rose from the dead.” Apology, Chapter LXVII.

2nd Century A.D. 120
“We keep the eighth day with joyfulness, the day on which Jesus rose again from the dead.” Chapter XVII.

1st Century A.D. 96
St. John on Patmos:
“I was in the spirit on the Lord’s Day.” Rev. 1:10.

1st Century A.D. 60
Luke, Asia Minor:
“And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them.” Acts 20:7.