A Rebuttal to Joao Machado on Sabbath or Sunday

At the invitation of Joao Machado, a Roman Catholic, the following rebuttal has been written in response to his essay regarding Sabbath or Sunday. The text of his original essay is in the boxes, followed by my comments.

Sabbath or Sunday

  “If we distinguish between the two Testaments, Old and New, there are not the same Sacraments, not the same promises....The Sacraments are not the same, because there are some Sacraments giving salvation, others promising a Savior. The Sacraments of the New Testament give salvation, the Sacraments of the Old Testament promise a Savior” (St. Augustine of Hippo, PSALMS)

God's Ten Commandments did not change from the Old Testament to the New Testament. Their presence on tables of stone in the Ark of the Covenant, in the Holy of Holies of the Hebrew Tabernacle, shows they are the standard by which all humanity will be judged. See: The Hebrew Sanctuary and The Seal of God in the Old and New Covenants.

With this in mind, let us start. It is an interesting note that the Sabbath versus Sunday issue has only come about in the last two hundred and fifty years. For over a century [he means millennium] and a half it was a non-issue.

So the statement is being made that the change from Sabbath to Sunday was a non-issue until about 1750 A.D., but this is easily proved to be an erroneous assertion.

Clearly those who taught and kept the seventh day (Saturday) Sabbath have been a persistent problem for the Catholic Church from its beginning.

Today for roughly 95% of all Christians it is still a non-issue.

Truth is not subject to a vote, or determined by how few the number of people who believe in it, or by how many are ignorant of it.

It is also worthy to note, that Christian Sabbath worship recently started in a country completely isolated from the resources of the Christian History. With the Bible as the only source of ecclesial education and maybe a couple of self proclaimed prophets, certain denominations started to form around Sabbath worship. You do not find any of the “Reformers” questioning the Sunday instead of the Sabbath! 

The change from Sabbath to Sunday was indeed an issue discussed by the reformers of the 16th century:

... They (those who assert church authority) also refer to the example of the Apostles, who commanded to abstain from blood and from things strangled, Acts 15, 29. They refer to the Sabbath-day as having been changed into the Lord's Day, contrary to the Decalog, as it seems. Neither is there any example whereof they make more than concerning the changing of the Sabbath-day. Great, say they, is the power of the Church, since it has dispensed with one of the Ten Commandments!

Source: The Augsburg Confession, Philip Melanchthon (1530), Article 28: Of Ecclesiastical Power.

But keep in mind there have always been groups within Christianity that have kept the Sabbath and Sunday together. In many non-Catholic Christian groups, Sunday is seen as the Sabbath, but the Catholic Church, Latin and Eastern Rites see the Sabbath has never changed, it is still the 7th day of the week.

Well, there certainly is no biblical support for making Sunday a Sabbath day, since no where does the New Testament declare the first day of the week to be the new Sabbath, nor does it set forth any rules or penalties regarding keeping or profaning Sunday. See: Sunday is NOT the Sabbath. So the Catholic Church would be quite correct in maintaining that the Sabbath day was and still is Saturday, the seventh day, not Sunday, the first day of the week. Yet even the Catholic Church attempts to transfer the Sabbath rest to Sunday. See Catechism of the Catholic Church #2185.

Sunday is seen as the 8th day of the week or the Lord’s Day. 

This is a Tradition of the Catholic Church that has no scriptural support, as we shall see.

The Encyclopedia Britannica describes Sunday, as the norm of what nearly all Christians believe: first day of the week; in Christianity, the Lord's Day, the weekly memorial of Jesus Christ's Resurrection from the dead. The practice of Christians gathering together for worship on Sunday dates back to apostolic times, but details of the actual development of the custom are not clear. Before the end of the 1st century AD, the author of Revelation gave the first day its name… 

Also the word ‘Sunday” is used by many English speaking non-Catholic Christians as a basis to associate the Catholic Church with the Pagan worshipers of the Roman Empire that worshiped the sun. English and some spin offs of the English language, use the word Sunday, but in Latin based languages it is a derivative of the word that starts with “Dom” such as “Domingo” for Spanish and Portuguese, or “Domenica” for Italian. The Latin prefix “dom” you find in words like Dominian, or dominus  [master of a house, lord, master] or even domitor  [tamer, conqueror, victor] Anno Domini or A.D. wich stands for “Year of the Lord”. Almost every Latin word that starts with “dom” refers to power, governorship or kingship of some kind, which would fit the description of “The Lords Day”.

Despite what the encyclopedia says, there is no biblical proof that the Apostles taught that Sunday should be observed to honor the resurrection of Jesus, or that they ceased to keep the Sabbath. Neither is there any proof that the phrase "the Lord's day" in Revelation 1:10 meant Sunday. See: Did the Apostles Keep Sunday?

The question I suppose still begs to be answered, how did Sunday become the day of worship instead of the Sabbath? For these answers we will start with the Official Catholic teaching on why Sunday takes precedence over the Sabbath. 


2174 Jesus rose from the dead "on the first day of the week." Because it is the "first day," the day of Christ's Resurrection recalls the first creation. Because it is the "eighth day" following the Sabbath, it symbolizes the new creation ushered in by Christ's Resurrection. For Christians it has become the first of all days, the first of all feasts, the Lord's Day (he kuriake hemera, dies )—Sunday:

We all gather on the day of the sun, for it is the first day [after the Jewish Sabbath, but also the first day] when God, separating matter from darkness, made the world; and on this same day Jesus Christ our Savior rose from the dead. St. Justin, I Apol. 67: PG 6, 429 and 432.

Sunday—fulfillment of the Sabbath
2175 Sunday is expressly distinguished from the Sabbath which it follows chronologically every week; for Christians its ceremonial observance replaces that of the Sabbath. In Christ's Passover, Sunday fulfills the spiritual truth of the Jewish Sabbath and announces man's eternal rest in God. For worship under the Law prepared for the mystery of Christ, and what was done there prefigured some aspects of Christ:

Those who lived according to the old order of things have come to a new hope, no longer keeping the Sabbath, but the Lord's Day, in which our life is blessed by him and by his death.108  St. Ignatius of Antioch, Ad Magn. 9, 1: SCh 10, 88.

2176 The celebration of Sunday observes the moral commandment inscribed by nature in the human heart to render to God an outward, visible, public, and regular worship "as a sign of his universal beneficence to all." Sunday worship fulfills the moral command of the Old Covenant, taking up its rhythm and spirit in the weekly celebration of the Creator and Redeemer of his people.

So the basis for Christian worship on Sunday rests on the foundation of the “Eighth Day as the Lord’s Day” can this be proven in the Bible?

No, as we shall see, the keeping of "the eighth day" in place of the Sabbath has no foundation what-so-ever in the Bible.

God made the world in six days and rested on the seventh.

Let us start with Genesis, Gen 6:17  Behold, I will bring the waters of a great flood upon the earth, to destroy all flesh, wherein is the breath of life under heaven. All things that are in the earth shall be consumed. Gen 6:18  And I will establish my covenant with thee, and thou shalt enter into the ark, thou and thy sons, and thy wife, and the wives of thy sons with thee.

Just before God sends the Great Flood, God promises to make a Covenant with Noah, now the Great Flood symbolizes a cleansing, a “type” that foreshadows Baptism. The Flood waters started on the second month of Noah’s six hundred year on the seventeenth day (Gen:7,11) and the Ark rested on the seventh month on the seventeenth day, five months after the flood started. (Gen 8:3)

(Gen 8:5) The waters continued to diminish until the tenth month, and on the first day of the tenth month the tops of the mountains appeared. Now the tenth month is actually the eighth month because the waters came on the second month and the first day would be of course Sunday. Gen 8:13 In the six hundred and first year of Noah's life, in the first month, on the first day of the month, the water began to dry up on the earth. Noah then removed the covering of the ark and saw that the surface of the ground was drying up.

So in Genesis we see not only the first Sabbath taking place but the first “Rebirth” New life with the eighth and the first day having the significance of a new beginning.

In the opening chapters of Genesis, the creation week was six days of work, and a day of rest on the seventh day.  There is no mention of any "eighth day" of the week. The weekly cycle involves only 7 days.

That the tops of the mountains became visible after eight months of the flood is quite irrelevant to any discussion regarding the Sabbath/Sunday issue.

How anyone can assert that the 1st day of Tebeth (the 10th month) in Gen. 8:5 is a reference to Sunday is beyond me. That makes about as much sense as saying the first day of October is a Sunday because it is the "first day". That is obviously nothing but nonsense.

Also we recount the number saved in the Ark, seven plus Noah. (2 Peter 2:5)

What bearing does that have on abolishing the commandment of God regarding the seventh day Sabbath, or replacing it with Sunday? None.

(Exo 22: 29) "You shall not delay to offer from the fullness of your harvest and from the outflow of your presses. "The first-born of your sons you shall give to me. 30 You shall do likewise with your oxen and with your sheep: seven days it shall be with its dam; on the eighth day you shall give it to me.

This speaks about offering the firstborn of oxen and sheep on the eighth day after their birth. Was this referring to Sunday? No, not unless you want to believe these animals only gave birth on Sundays, which counting inclusively would bring you back to Sunday after eight days. No, obviously the eighth day after birth could be any day of the week, and has no relationship at all to Sunday.

(Lev 9:1) On the eighth day Moses called Aaron and his sons and the elders of Israel; 2 and he said to Aaron, "Take a bull calf for a sin offering, and a ram for a burnt offering, both without blemish, and offer them before the LORD.

Again this "eighth day" is not referring to Sunday, but the eighth day after beginning the consecration of Aaron and his sons to minister in the Hebrew Sanctuary.

(Lev 12:3) God told Moses to instruct the people of Israel that all male children are to be circumcised on the eighth day after birth. Now circumcision was the way one was brought into the Covenant of Israel and God and also a "type" of Baptism.

The Bible does not teach the baptism of infants on the eighth day after birth, rather it teaches baptism of believers, those who have repented and accepted Christ, which an infant cannot do. See: Biblical Baptism A Confession of Repentance and Faith.

(Lev 15:14-29)  We see that when it was time to make a sin and burnt offering for atonement to the Lord Our God it was on the “eighth’ day (the first day following the Sabbath).

The eighth day mentioned has no relationship to any day of the week, much less Sunday. This passage deals with a seven day period of a man washing and being cleansed after a bodily defilement (v. 13), and an offering to be made on the eighth day when cleansing is completed. It is nonsense to assert that this "eighth day" was a Sunday. Since a man might suffer this defilement on any day of the week, the offering made the eighth day (after cleansing for seven days) could also be any day of the week.

As we continue with Leviticus we find more clues; (Lev 23:35) On the first day shall be a holy convocation; you shall do no laborious work.  36 Seven days you shall present offerings by fire to the LORD; on the eighth day you shall hold a holy convocation and present an offering by fire to the LORD; it is a solemn assembly; you shall do no laborious work. It would seem that this day takes precedence over the preceding Sabbath! In fact we see it again in (Lev 23:39)  "On the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when you have gathered in the produce of the land, you shall keep the feast of the LORD seven days; on the first day shall be a solemn rest, and on the eighth day shall be a solemn rest. 40 And you shall take on the first day the fruit of goodly trees, branches of palm trees, and boughs of leafy trees, and willows of the brook; and you shall rejoice before the LORD your God seven days. 41 You shall keep it as a feast to the LORD seven days in the year; it is a statute forever throughout your generations; you shall keep it in the seventh month. 42 You shall dwell in booths for seven days; all that are native in Israel shall dwell in booths, 43 that your generations may know that I made the people of Israel dwell in booths when I brought them out of the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God."

Leviticus 23:34-43 speaks about the Feast of Tabernacles, which begins on the 15th day of Tishri, and extends for 8 days. Since the months begin with the sighting of the new moon, which could be any day of the week, so the first day, and eighth day of the Feast of Tabernacles could be on any day of the week. Only someone totally unfamiliar with the Hebrew calendar and the biblical festivals could assert that the first day in Lev. 23:35 and the eighth day in Lev. 23:36 refer to Sundays.

So which day is the Lord’s Day, the Seventh or the Eighth?

(Exo 31:12) And the LORD said to Moses, 13 "Say to the people of Israel, 'You shall keep my Sabbaths, for this is a sign between me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I, the LORD, sanctify you. 14 You shall keep the Sabbath, because it is holy for you; every one who profanes it shall be put to death; whoever does any work on it, that soul shall be cut off from among his people. 15 Six days shall work be done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, holy to the LORD; whoever does any work on the Sabbath day shall be put to death. 16 Therefore the people of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, observing the Sabbath throughout their generations, as a perpetual covenant. 17 It is a sign for ever between me and the people of Israel that in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed.'"

Note the severity of the punishment mentioned for profaning the seventh day Sabbath, which is holy to the Lord! Note also that keeping the seventh day Sabbath is a sign between God and His people, a  perpetual covenant, an acknowledgment by His people that He is the true creator God. Where does the New Testament transfer this to Sunday? It doesn't.

Gen 2:3 And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.

Does God bless and sanctify the first day of the week as a holy day, a day of rest? No, not in the Bible. Saturday, the seventh day of the week is holy to the Lord, Saturday is truly the Lord's day, and he asks us to Remember it to keep it holy.

The key point is that the Sabbath covenant was with God and the people of Israel only. Not with “Israel and the Gentiles’, or ‘Israel and all the peoples of the earth” but Israel only!  Unlike the first Covenant with Noah;

 (Gen 9:12) God added: "This is the sign that I am giving for all ages to come, of the covenant between me and you and every living creature with you: 13 I set my bow in the clouds to serve as a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. 14 When I bring clouds over the earth, and the bow appears in the clouds, 15 I will recall the covenant I have made between me and you and all living beings, so that the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all mortal beings. 

Here we clearly see God making a covenant with not only Noah, but with “all ages to come”. Clearly the Sabbath was meant for Israel only. The only people on earth that should still hold to the Sabbath Commandment are the Jewish people, and then only if they sincerely believe that the Messiah has not yet arrived, which He has.  

Exo 20:8 Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.
Exo 20:9 Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work:
Exo 20:10 But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates:
Exo 20:11 For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.

Note that even the stranger (foreigner) within the gates was to observe the Sabbath rest. The Bible also tells us that all people will keep the Sabbath:

Isa 66:23 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 the LORD.

A friend of mine, Rev. Ken Collins (who is not Catholic) points out that according to the Torah, "honoring the Sabbath and keeping it holy" means refraining from work, and the Torah contains a number of specific laws about it. There are Christians who believe that they are not only obligated to keep the Sabbath, they also interpret it as a commandment to attend church. The problem is that if they drive a car to church, they have broken the Sabbath to keep it, because driving a car involves igniting an internal combustion engine, which violates the law against starting a fire on the Sabbath!

In a similar manner, the Pharisees accused Jesus and His disciples of breaking the Sabbath by picking and eating grain as they walked through a field (Matt 12:1-8, Mark 2:23-28, Luke 6:1-5).

Lev 23:3 Six days shall work be done: but the seventh day is the sabbath of rest, an holy convocation; ye shall do no work therein: it is the sabbath of the LORD in all your dwellings.

Since the seventh day Sabbath is declared by God to be a convocation day, the people of God are commanded to assemble on that day for worship. Starting your car to attend church on the Sabbath is perfectly permissible, and is in the same category as David and his men eating the showbread, which is to say there is nothing wrong with it. The Pharisee, however, seeks to make the Sabbath a burden on people, rather than a delight.

Also, the Sabbath is the only Commandment in the New Testament that is not taught to be observed, in fact all other Commandments are taught and reiterated numerous times but not the Sabbath.

Mat 19:16 And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?
Mat 19:17 And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.
Mat 19:18 He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness,
Mat 19:19 Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
Mat 19:20 The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet?

Note that in answer to the question regarding eternal life, Jesus omits those commandments dealing with worship of God. Can we logically conclude that because of its omission the commandment regarding worship of other gods (Exo. 20:3) had been abolished? No, it would be foolish to assume that. Had the commandment against bowing down before idols (Exo. 20:4-5) also been abolished? No. Had the commandment forbidding taking the name of God in vain (Exo. 20:7) been abolished? No. It is absurd to conclude these commandments were abolished by Jesus simply because He did not mention them. How can anyone conclude, then, that the one commandment that calls us to remember the sabbath day to keep it holy is not included when Jesus said, in answer to the question "if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments." Surely it was included implicitly as a commandment to be kept, therefore Jesus did teach the keeping of the seventh day Sabbath when He said "keep the commandments."

See: The Seal of God in the Old and New Covenants.

Jesus also taught this:

Mat 5:18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.
Mat 5:19 Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

Yet the Catholic Church would have us believe that they have abolished one of the Ten Commandments of God, and replaced it with a Tradition of men?

Mat 15:8 This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.
Mat 15:9 But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.

We see “The Lord’s Day” in the New Testament is in the Book Of Revelation Chapter 1:10, I was caught up in spirit on the Lord's day * and heard behind me a voice as loud as a trumpet,  Every time Jesus Christ appeared to the Apostles after the Crucifixion, it was on “The Lord’s Day”.

That John means Sunday in Revelation 1:10 is nothing but pure speculation. While Sunday has become known through Tradition as the Lord's day, scripture does not designate it as such, but we can find the following, referring to the Saturday Sabbath:

Mat 12:8 For the Son of man is Lord even of the sabbath day.

Mark 2:28 Therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath.

Luke 6:5 And he said unto them, That the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath.

In the above verses it is quite clear that Jesus Christ is the Lord of the Sabbath day, referring to the biblical sabbath, the sabbath instituted at creation and written on tables of stone by the finger of God (Exo. 20:8-11). The only day of the week John would have considered to be "the Lord's day" was not Sunday, but the biblical seventh day Saturday Sabbath spoken of by Jesus Himself.

Even the earliest records show “Sunday” as the day of worship not the Sabbath. Some even claim that the Emperor Constantine changed the worship day from Sabbath to Sunday around 340 A.D. But this does not lend itself to reason, for three hundred years, Christianity thrived by Martyrdom, people giving their lives for the faith, yet if Constantine had actually “changed” the day of worship, would not have their been a huge uproar? Yet there was none, in fact the Apology of Justin Martyr (http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0126.htm), clearly shows Christians worshiping on Sunday one hundred and fifty years prior.  

For Constantine and his Sunday law, see my Rebuttal of D. James Kennedy's Sermon "The Gift of Rest".

God reveals himself in Revelation for the first time as "The Alpha and the Omega", three times in Revelation this is revealed, there is no other reference in Scripture other than in Revelation. "Alpha" (Beginning) "Omega" (The End), so too is the First day of the week, the Beginning and the End.

As we have seen, the assertion that scripture designates Sunday as the eighth day is totally groundless. Likewise, scripture does not apply the phrase "alpha and omega" to any day of the week, it is a claim without any merit.

Christ is the Light Of The World, on the First Day, God said, "Let there be light".

The Sabbath was given to man, but Sunday is the Lord’s Day! 

Joao Machado

As mentioned previously the Bible does not apply the phrase "the Lord's Day" to Sunday, but the Lord does call the seventh day Sabbath "my holy day, ... the holy of the LORD":

Isa 58:12 And they that shall be of thee shall build the old waste places: thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations; and thou shalt be called, The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell in.
Isa 58:13 If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the LORD, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words:
Isa 58:14 Then shalt thou delight thyself in the LORD; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.

Clearly, the Lord's Holy Day is the seventh day (Saturday) Sabbath! The mouth of the LORD has spoken it!

Conclusion: The substitution of Sunday for the seventh day Sabbath has no biblical warrant, it is not taught in scripture. Neither does scripture call the first day of the week "the eighth day" or "the Lord's day."

This rebuttal was posted on June 18th, 2004 at the request of Joao Machado. Initially he agreed to link to any rebuttal from his essay, and at first he did so, although he subsequently refused to respond to the points raised in my rebuttal. By August 1st, 2004, he had even removed the link to this rebuttal, though his essay still remained. I can only conclude that he knows, from reading the above rebuttal, that his essay Sabbath or Sunday is untrue, and indefensible.

See also: A Rebuttal to Jacob Michael of CAI on the Sabbath / Sunday Issue for a similar discussion with a Roman Catholic and An Open Letter to Pastor Jack Hayford on Sunday as "the Lord's Day." for a discussion with a Protestant.

More on the Sabbath