Responding to Peter on Patristic Sabbatarianism

Peter is a friend I’ve made through the blog. He has a blog at

Peter wrote today and asked why I had not answered one his recent comments on the blog. I believe the comment posted belowis the one he meant. It was a comment on my post, “Revisiting Gentiles in MJ.” His subject matter is syncretism (adding non-Christian elements to the faith) in the Roman Catholic church and some evidence for a seventh-day Sabbath view in some of the Church fathers. Here is the last two-thirds of Peter’s comment:

there were various authors from the early “church” who spoke of keeping Sabbath on the 7th not 1st day. there is much history that suggests the early followers of Yeshua kept the Sabbath. then by the 5th and 6th century, there are two separate writers who discuss the views of the “church” (mind you the Body is almost purely gentile by then). they both say that Sabbath is the 7th day, and has always been, and most importantly that the ENTIRE church keeps the 7th day, EXCEPT for the church in Rome and Alexandria. sure rome and alexandria were big churches, meaning a lot of people, but the majority of the Body wasnt in those two regions (at that time). the majority was in asia minor. so the “majority” of the church (if these historians are to be believedd) kept Sabbath on the 7th day.

however, the bishop of Rome mandated that people not keep Sabbath on saturday and instead keep it on sunday. this was in the 5th century.

now, i think the pt is that gentile followers of Yeshua with little jewish influence left, still kept Sabbath. however, over time, Rome become the primary influence in the Body, and over time, the bishop of Rome became stronger. and over time, the “pope” became rich and powerful and ungodly. and over time, the popes became murderous and perverted. and over time, the RC church gained power over almost everything. so is it really surprising that there are things that have changed from being “jewish” (Sabbath) to being “gentile” (Sunday rest day)????

now, my pt isnt to say that the Body shouldnt be gentile and jewish, but that the Body of followers of Yeshua in the beginning, were much more “jewish” culturally in their practices than “gentile”. now, we see the opposite, except for in MJ.

so maybe there is another possibility. maybe its ok to have MJ. maybe its ok to have a “separate” body for “gentiles”, but arent we all supposed to be following Yeshua. arent we all (originally) supposed to be culturally “jewish”? at least in regard to many practices. i know there are areas of debate as to whether gentiles must be fully Torah observant or not. but certainly the “gentile” churches have forgotten what it means to follow Yeshua.

maybe MJ doesnt care about that. maybe Jewish believers dont want to help their brothers out. but what if yall helped guide us to a better understanding of what it means to follow Yeshua? why cant that happen? why must there be apartheid? why must there be an MJ movement and a “baptist” movement and a “pentecostal” movement and a RC movement and a “reformed” movement, etc. isnt the pt that we are all one in Yeshua?

and as such, i think there is a need for “jewishness” at least culturally. but that really wont happen among the “gentile” churches unless MJ helps. Peter

Here are some questions I have for Peter:

1. What church father or early church leader advocacted a seventh-day Sabbath? I need a reference to believe this is true. If it is, I am honestly unaware of it.

2. Which bishop of Rome declared Sunday the new Sabbath? I need a reference. You may be right but I would like to see documentation.

3. Are you saying that being Jewish doesn’t really matter and that Jews and Gentiles in Messiah have no distinction of role?

Thanks and I look forward to your answers.



About Derek Leman

IT guy working in the associations industry. Formerly a congregational rabbi. Dad of 8. Nerd.
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6 Responses to Responding to Peter on Patristic Sabbatarianism

  1. pbandj says:


    i am sorry, i dont currently have the citations with me. i will get them from my room later on. i will definitely respond with that info.

    as far as your question: “3. Are you saying that being Jewish doesn’t really matter and that Jews and Gentiles in Messiah have no distinction of role?”


    1. i am saying that the label “jewish” is just a label like anything, it doesnt adequately espouse everything that is true about the “jews” or “gentiles”

    2. with that said, i think i know what you mean by “jew”, i think you mean Torah observer who is descended from Jacob. am i correct?

    3. if you mean Torah observer descended from Jacob, then i believe(but may be wrong and would appreciate any critique):

    a. there are separate and unique covenants from the children of Israel. God is faithful and will fulfill His covenants with His chosen people.

    b. there are shared covenants in which both jew and gentile partake. for example, Messiah’s atonement bringing redemption and justification through faith.

    c. there may practices that can remain specifically “jewish”. unfortunately, i am not of jewish ethnic background and am not as familiar with many of the customs that are “jewish”. however, i do feel that gentiles are not excluded from many of these practices. for instance, i believe a gentile can keep kosher and it isnt wrong for him to do so, even if not obligatory.

    d. there are shared practices in which jew and gentile are to partake. for example, all who trust in the “new covenant” (not displacing or superceding the former ones) are to keep Passover, remembering the Passover and Yeshua’s sacrifice of His body and blood and the redemption that He brings.

    e. all followers of Yeshua should understand many “jewish” practices, beliefs, cultural norms in order to better understand the Scriptures.

    f. many “gentile” believers have framed their theology and practice in a medieval non-jewish (even antisemitic sometimes) light, which must be revised in order to understand what God intended more fully.

    g. some people are called to reach certain cultures. as apostles (or whatever term you desire, missionaries, etc), these men and women will often assume some of the cultural practices of the culture to which they are apostles.

    of course, there are so many more issues that are relevant, but i dont wish to get of track. the issue i was specifically addressing was that of Sabbath.

    let me give a few more reasons (besides those to which i will get back with you about)i feel that i am to keep Sabbath.

    1. God created the world in 6 days and rested on the 7th, giving a model for all of creation, not just “jews”.

    2. Yeshua and His disciples kept the Sabbath, Yeshua is to be our model for life.

    3. Paul, the “apostle to the gentiles” kept Sabbath (or at least it seems that he did from an acct of paul preaching on Sabbath and teaching in synagogues, etc)

    4. the early (meaning that in Acts)church did keep Sabbath.

    5. more to follow about the historical traditions of prominently gentile bodies keeping Sabbath on 7th day…


  2. pbandj says:


    here is some historical stuff:

    1st century
    “And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up for to read.” Luke 4:16

    “And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life? And he said unto him, if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.” Matthew 19:16-17

    “But pray ye that your flight be not in winter, neither on the Sabbath day.” Matthew 24:20.
    Jesus asked his disciples to pray that in the flight from the doomed city of Jerusalem they would not have to flee on the Sabbath day. This flight took place in 70 A.D. (40 years after the Cross).

    His Followers
    “And they returned, and prepared spices and ointments and rested the Sabbath day according to the commandment.” Luke 23:56

    “And Paul, as his manner was went in unto them, and three Sabbath days reasoned with them out of the Scriptures” Acts 17:2

    Paul And Gentiles
    “And when the Jews were gone out of the synagogue, the Gentiles besought that these words might be preached to them the next Sabbath. And the next Sabbath came almost the whole city together to hear the Word of God.” Acts 13:42, 44.

    Here we find Gentiles in a Gentile city gathering on the Sabbath. It was not a synagogue meeting in verse 44, for it says almost the whole city came together, verse 42 says they asked to hear the message the “next Sabbath.”

    “I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day.” Rev. 1:10 (Mark 2:28, Isa.58:13, Ex.20:10, Clearly show the Sabbath to be the Lord’s day).

    “There is not any city of the Grecians, nor any of the Barbarians, nor any nation whatsoever, whither our custom of resting on the seventh day hath not come!” M’Clatchie, “Notes and Queries on China and Japan” (edited by Dennys), Vol 4, Nos 7, 8, p.100.

    Declares the seventh day to be a festival, not of this or of that city, but of the universe. M’Clatchie, “Notes and Queries,” Vol. 4, 99

    more to follow…

  3. pbandj says:

    2nd century
    “The primitive Christians had a great veneration for the Sabbath, and spent the day in devotion and sermons. And it is not to be doubted but they derived this practice from the Apostles themselves, as appears by several scriptures to the purpose.” “Dialogues on the Lord’s Day,” p. 189. London: 1701, By Dr. T.H. Morer (A Church of England divine).

    “…The Sabbath was a strong tie which united them with the life of the whole people, and in keeping the Sabbath holy they followed not only the example but also the command of Jesus.” “Geschichte des Sonntags,” pp.13, 14

    “The Gentile Christians observed also the Sabbath,” Gieseler’s “Church History,” Vol.1, ch. 2, par. 30, 93.
    Early Christians
    “The primitive Christians did keep the Sabbath of the Jews;…therefore the Christians, for a long time together, did keep their conventions upon the Sabbath, in which some portions of the law were read: and this continued till the time of the Laodicean council.” “The Whole Works” of Jeremy Taylor, Vol. IX,p. 416 (R. Heber’s Edition, Vol XII, p. 416).

    “It is certain that the ancient Sabbath did remain and was observed (together with the celebration of the Lord’s day) by the Christians of the East Church, above three hundred years after our Saviour’s death.” “A Learned Treatise of the Sabbath,” p. 77

    Note: By the “Lord’s day” here the writer means Sunday and not the true Sabbath,” which the Bible says is the Sabbath. This quotation shows Sunday coming into use in the early centuries soon after the death of the Apostles. Paul the Apostle foretold a great “falling away” from the Truth that would take place soon after his death.

    “From the apostles’ time until the council of Laodicea, which was about the year 364, the holy observance of the Jews’ Sabbath continued, as may be proved out of many authors: yea, notwithstanding the decree of the council against it.” “Sunday a Sabbath.” John Ley, p.163. London: 1640.

  4. pbandj says:

    3rd century
    “The seventh-day Sabbath was…solemnised by Christ, the Apostles, and primitive Christians, till the Laodicean Council did in manner quite abolish the observations of it.” “Dissertation on the Lord’s Day,” pp. 33, 34

    Egypt (Oxyrhynchus Papyrus) (200-250 A.D.)
    “Except ye make the sabbath a real sabbath (sabbatize the Sabbath,” Greek), ye shall not see the Father.” “The oxyrhynchus Papyri,” pt,1, p.3, Logion 2, verso 4-11 (London Offices of the Egypt Exploration Fund, 1898).

    Early Christians-C 3rd
    “Thou shalt observe the Sabbath, on account of Him who ceased from His work of creation, but ceased not from His work of providence: it is a rest for meditation of the law, not for idleness of the hands.” “The Anti-Nicene Fathers,” Vol 7,p. 413. From “Constitutions of the Holy Apostles,” a document of the 3rd and 4th Centuries.
    Africa (Alexandria) Origen
    “After the festival of the unceasing sacrifice (the crucifixion) is put the second festival of the Sabbath, and it is fitting for whoever is righteous among the saints to keep also the festival of the Sabbath. There remaineth therefore a sabbatismus, that is, a keeping of the Sabbath, to the people of God (Hebrews 4:9).” “Homily on Numbers 23,” par.4, in Migne, “Patrologia Graeca,” Vol. 12,cols. 749, 750.

    Palestine to India (Church of the East)
    As early as A.D. 225 there existed lallrge bishoprics or conferences of the Church of the East (Sabbath-keeping) stretching from Palestine to India. Mingana, “Early Spread of Christianity.” Vol.10, p. 460.

    India (Buddhist Controversy, 220 A.D.)
    The Kushan Dynasty of North India called a famous council of Buddhist priests at Vaisalia to bring uniformity among the Buddhist monks on the observance of their weekly Sabbath. Some had been so impressed by the writings of the Old Testament that they had begun to keep holy the Sabbath. Lloyd, “The Creed of Half Japan,” p. 23.

    Early Christians
    “The seventh-day Sabbath was…solemnised by Christ, the Apostles, and primitive Christians, till the Laodicean Council did in manner quite abolish the observations of it.” “Dissertation on the Lord’s Day,” pp. 33, 34

  5. pbandj says:

    5th century
    “The people of Constantinople, and almost everywhere, assemble together on the Sabbath, as well as on the first day of the week, which custom is never observed at Rome or at Alexandria.” Socrates, “Ecclesiastical History,” Book 7, chap.19.

    The World
    “For although almost all churches throughout The World celebrated the sacred mysteries (the Lord’s Supper) on the Sabbath of every week, yet the Christians of Allexandria and at Rome, on account of some ancient tradition, refuse to do this.” The footnote which accompanies the foregoing quotation explains the use of the word “Sabbath.” It says: “That is, upon the Saturday. It should be observed, that Sunday is never called “the Sabbath’ by the ancient Fathers and historians.” Socrates, “Ecclestical History,” Book 5, chap. 22, p. 289.

    “The people of Constantinople, and almost everywhere, assemble together on the Sabbath, as well as on the first day of the week, which custom is never observed at Rome or at Alexandria.” Socrates, “Ecclesiastical History,” Book 7, chap.19.
    The World – Augustine, Bishop Of Hippo (North Africa)
    Augustine shows here that the Sabbath was observed in his day “in the greater part of the Christian world,” and his testimony in this respect is all the more valuable because he himself was an earnest and consistent Sunday-keeper. See “Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers,” 1st Series, Vol.1, pp. 353, 354.

    5th Century Christians

    Down even to the fifth century the observance of the Jewish Sabbath was continued in the Christian church. “Ancient Christianity Exemplified,” Lyman Coleman, ch. 26, sec. 2, p. 527.

    In Jerome’s day (420 A.D.) the devoutest Christians did ordinary work on Sunday. “Treatise of the Sabbath Day,” by Dr. White, Lord Bishop of Ely, p. 219.

    “Wherefore, except Vespers and Nocturns, there are no public services among them in the day except on Saturday (Sabbath) and Sunday.” John Cassian, A French monk, “Institutes,” Book 3, ch. 2.

    “Augustine deplored the fact that in two neighbouring churches in Africa one observes the seventh-day Sabbath, another fasted on it.” Dr. Peter Heylyn, “The History of the Sabbath.” p. 416.

    Spain (400 A.D.)
    “Ambrose sanctified the seventh day as the Sabbath (as he himself says). Ambrose had great influence in Spain, which was also observing the Saturday Sabbath.” Truth Triumphant, p. 68.

    Sidonius (Speaking Of King Theodoric Of The Goths, A.D. 454-526)
    “It is a fact that it was formerly the custom in the East to keep the Sabbath in the same manner as the Lord’s day and to hold sacred assemblies: while on the other hand, the people of the West, contending for the Lord’s day have neglected the celebration of the Sabbath.” “Apollinaries Sidonli Epistolae,” lib.1, 2; Migne, 57.

    Church Of The East
    “Mingana proves that in 410 Isaac, supreme director of the Church of the East, held a world council,-stimulated, some think, by the trip of Musacus,-attended by eastern delegates from forty grand metrop olitan divisions. In 411 he appointed a metropolitan director for China. These churches were sanctifying the seventh day.”

    “There are several cities and villages in Egypt where, contrary to the usage established elsewhere, the people meet together on Sabbath evenings, and, although they have dined previously, partake of the mysteries.” Sozomen. “Ecclesiastical History Book 7, ch. 119

  6. pbandj says:

    6th century
    Scottish Church
    “In this latter instance they seemed to have followed a custom of which we find traces in the early monastic church of Ireland by which they held Saturday to be the Sabbath on which they rested from all their labours.” W.T. Skene, “Adamnan Llife of St. Columbs” 1874, p.96.

    Scotland, Ireland
    “We seem to see here an allusion to the custom, observed in the early monastic Church of Ireland, of keeping the day of rest on Saturday, or the Sabbath.” “History of the Catholic Church in Scotland,” Vol.1, p. 86, by Catholic historian Bellesheim.
    Scotland – Columba
    “Having continued his labours in Scotland thirty-four years, he clearly and openly foretold his death, and on Saturday, the month of June, said to his disciple Diermit: “This day is called the Sabbath, that is the rest day, and such will it truly be to me; for it will put an end to my labours.'” “Butler’s Lives of the Saints,” Vol.1, A.D. 597, art. “St. Columba” p. 762

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