Did the Pope move the Sabbath to Sunday?

Certain Christians observe a Saturday Sabbath. Some, but certainly not all, who do this also believe church leaders illegitimately determined to move the Sabbath to Sunday. Those blamed for this include the Pope and the Catholic church. The facts of Scripture and history do not support these claims.

The Sabbath is the seventh day of the week as established by God (Genesis 2:3) and commanded for the Israelites. (Exodus 20:8-10) Christian’s meeting together on Sunday to worship God traces back to the very first day of the church’s existence. On the day of Pentecost 3,000 people believed the gospel, were baptized and added to the church. The first Pentecost after the resurrection of Jesus is the day the church began. (Acts 2:48) Pentecost is always a Sunday. The Day of Pentecost the final day of the Feast of Weeks, which is a period of seven weeks that begins with the Feast of Firstfruits. Jesus was raised from the dead on the first day of the week and on the Feast of Firstfruits. Seven weeks later the nation of Israel celebrated Pentecost. On the Pentecost after Jesus’ resurrection the Holy Spirit filled 120 disciples, the apostle Peter preached in Jerusalem, three thousand people were saved and the New Testament church began. Since that Sunday the church has met together on the first day of the week.

The New Testament tells of a regular church gathering on the first day of the week. Acts 20:7 speaks of the first day of the week as the day when Christians met together to celebrate communion. In First Corinthians 16:2 the apostle Paul spoke of the first day of the week as the day when the church came together. The New Testament shows that the church has met on Sunday since its beginning.

This claim is supported by the writings of the early church pastor Ignatius. Ignatius died around 110 AD, which makes his writings some of the earliest Christian writings outside the Bible. Ignatius said of Jewish converts to Christianity that they, “No longer observe the Sabbath, but live in the observance of the Lord’s Day, on which also our life has sprung up against by Him and by His death.” The reference to the Lord’s day as the day on which our life has sprung up refers to the day of Jesus’ resurrection. Jewish converts stopped observing the Sabbath to meet together on Sunday. From the earliest days the church has met on Sunday in honor of the resurrection of Jesus.

The decision for the church to gather on Sunday was not the decision of any person, apostle, prophet, pope or church leader, but the result of God’s work to start His church on Sunday. Christians meet together on Sunday because on that day the Savior rose from the dead and on that day Jesus first filled His people with His Holy Spirit.