Did Constantine and the Catholic Church change the Sabbath from Saturday to Sunday?
Contributions: Catholic Bishops Commission for Catechetics
Translation: Suzanna Joseph
People often ask whether Constantine and the Catholic Church changed the Sabbath from Saturday to Sunday. This is true, the Catholic Church brought about this change. However it occurred long before the reign of Constantine. For Christians two important biblical events occurred on Sunday, symbolizing it as a special day.
The first event takes place on Easter, which commemorates the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, described in the New Testament as having occurred on the third day after his burial, following his crucifixion (20 John)
Next event took place on Pentecost, which commemorates the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles (2 Acts).
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After resurrection Christ appears twice to his Apostles, each time on a Sunday (John 20:19 and 26). These events resulted in Christians observing Sunday as the Lord’s Day.
We also read in Acts 20:7 “On the first day of the week (Sunday) evening we gathered together for the fellowship meal. Paul spoke to the people and kept on speaking until midnight, since he was going to leave the next day. The reference of this Sunday tells us that in the 4th century long before the reign of Constantine (in the year 50) the Christians were celebrating Sabbath on Sunday.
It is an interesting fact that this is the only mention of the breaking of bread throughout the whole time Paul had spent with the Christians of Troas. If Saint Paul had felt that celebrating Sabbath on Sunday is idolatry then he would have corrected the Christians and revoked the practice.
Saint Paul wrote “ So let no one make rules about what you can eat or drink or about holy days or the New Moon festival or the Sabbath. All such things are only a shadow of things in the future; the reality is Christ. (Colossians 2:16-17)
Reflecting on these verses Jewish Christians are no longer bound to any rules regarding eating, drinking, festivals or Sabbaths.