The Church Fathers Speak

The Didache (C. 90-150 A.D.): "On the Lord's Day of theLord gather together, break bread and give thanks, after confessing yourtransgressions so that your sacrifice may be pure..."



"Be not deceived with strange doctrines, nor with old fables, whichare unprofitable. For if we still live according to the Jewish law, weacknowledge that we have not received grace… If, therefore, those who werebrought up in the ancient order of things have come to the possession ofa new hope, no longer observing the Sabbath, but living in the observanceof the Lord's Day, on which also our life has sprung up again by Him andby His death…"

St. Ignatius of Antioch, [Epistle to the Magnesians 9] (110 A.D.):"Those who lived according to the old order of things have come toa new hope, no longer keeping the Sabbath, but the Lord's Day, in whichour life is blessed by Him and by His death."

Justin Martyr : The First Apology (155 AD) CHAP. 67 WEEKLY WORSHIPOF THE CHRISTIANS.

"…And on the day called Sunday, all who live in cities or in thecountry gather together to one place, and the memoirs of the apostles orthe writings of the prophets are read, as long as time permits; then, whenthe reader has ceased, the president verbally instructs, and exhorts tothe imitation of these good things. Then we all rise together and pray,and, as we before said, when our prayer is ended, bread and wine and waterare brought, and the president in like manner offers prayers and thanksgivings,according to his ability, and the people assent, saying Amen; and thereis a distribution to each, and a participation of that over which thankshave been given (Eucharistic elements)... And they who are well to do,and willing, give what each thinks fit; and what is collected is depositedwith the president, who succours the orphans and widows and those who,through sickness or any other cause, are in want, … and in a word takescare of all who are in need. But Sunday is the day on which we all holdour common assembly, because it is the first day on which God, having wroughta change in the darkness and matter, made the world; and Jesus Christ ourSaviour on the same day rose from the dead. For He was crucified on theday before that of Saturn (Saturday); and on the day after that of Saturn,which is the day of the Sun, having appeared to His apostles and disciples,He taught them these things, which we have submitted to you also for yourconsideration."

TERTULLIAN : An Answer to the Jews (206 AD) CHAP. 4. Of the Observanceof the Sabbath.

"It follows, accordingly, that, in so far as the abolition of carnalcircumcision and of the old law is demonstrated as having been consummatedat its specific times, so also the observance of the Sabbath is demonstratedto have been temporary… He predicts through Isaiah: ‘And there shall be,’He says, ‘month after month, and day after day, and sabbath after sabbath;and all flesh shall come to adore in Jerusalem, saith the Lord;’ whichwe understand to have been fulfilled in the times of Christ, when ‘allflesh’--that is, every nation—‘came to adore in Jerusalem’ God the Father,through Jesus Christ His Son, as was predicted through the prophet…Butthe Jews are sure to say, that ever since this precept was given throughMoses, the observance has been binding. Manifest accordingly it is, thatthe precept was not eternal nor spiritual, but temporary, which would oneday cease…"


"Hence it is not possible that the [day of] rest after the sabbathshould have come into existence from the seventh [day] of our God. On thecontrary, it is our Savior who, after the pattern of his own rest, causedus to be made in the likeness of his death, and hence also of his resurrection"(Commentary on John 2:28 [A.D. 229]).


"The sixth day [Friday] is called parasceve, that is tosay, the preparation of the kingdom. . . . On this day also, on accountof the passion of the Lord Jesus Christ, we make either a station to Godor a fast. On the seventh day he rested from all his works, and blessedit, 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 toobserve any sabbath with the Jews . . . which sabbath he [Christ] in hisbody abolished" (The Creation of the World [A.D. 300]).

Eusebius of Caesarea

"They [the early saints of the Old Testament] did not care aboutcircumcision of the body, neither do we [Christians]. They did not careabout observing sabbaths, nor do we. They did not avoid certain kinds offood, neither did they regard the other distinctions which Moses firstdelivered to their posterity to be observed as symbols; nor do Christiansof the present day do such things" (Church History 1:4:8 [A.D.312]).


"The sabbath was the end of the first creation, the Lord's daywas the beginning of the second, in which he renewed and restored the oldin the same way as he prescribed that they should formerly observe thesabbath as a memorial of the end of the first things, so we honor the Lord'sday as being the memorial of the new creation" (On Sabbath andCircumcision 3 [A.D. 345]).

Cyril of Jerusalem

"Fall not away either into the sect of the Samaritans or into Judaism,for Jesus Christ has henceforth ransomed you. Stand aloof from all observanceof sabbaths and from calling any indifferent meats common or unclean"(Catechetical Lectures 4:37 [A.D. 350]).

Council of Laodicea

"Christians should not Judaize and should not be idle on the sabbath,but should work on that day; they should, however, particularly reverencethe Lord's day and, if possible, not work on it, because they were Christians"(canon 29 [A.D. 360]).

John Chrysostom

"[W]hen he said, 'You shall not kill' . . . he did not add, 'becausemurder is a wicked thing.' The reason was that conscience had taught thisbefore hand, and he speaks thus, as to those who know and understand thepoint. Wherefore when he speaks to us of another commandment, not knownto us by the dictate of conscience, he not only prohibits, but adds thereason. When, for instance, he gave commandment concerning the sabbath--'Onthe seventh day you shall do no work'--he subjoined also the reason forthis cessation. What was this? 'Because on the seventh day God rested fromall his works which he had begun to make' [Ex. 20:10]. And again: 'Becauseyou were a servant in the land of Egypt' [Deut. 21:18]. For what purposethen, I ask, did he add a reason respecting the sabbath, but did no suchthing in regard to murder? Because this commandment was not one of theleading ones. It was not one of those which were accurately defined ofour conscience, but a kind of partial and temporary one, and for this reasonit was abolished afterward. But those which are necessary and uphold ourlife are the following: 'You shall not kill . . . You shall not commitadultery . . . You shall not steal.' On this account he adds no reasonin this case, nor enters into any instruction on the matter, but is contentwith the bare prohibition" (Homilies on the Statues 12:9 [A.D.387]).


"Well, now, I should like to be told what there is in these TenCommandments, except the observance of the sabbath, which ought not tobe kept by a Christian . . . Which of these commandments would anyone saythat the Christian ought not to keep? It is possible to contend that itis not the Law which was written on those two tables that the apostle [Paul]describes as 'the letter that kills' [2 Cor. 3:6], but the law of circumcisionand the other sacred rites which are now abolished" (The Spiritand the Letter 24 [A.D. 412]).