Updated: Apr 17
The 6th seal ended with the question, “Who shall be able to stand.” Revelation 7 gives the answer - the 144,000.
REVELATION CHAPTER 7
And after these things I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree.
2 And I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God: and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea,
3 Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads.
4 And I heard the number of them which were sealed: [and there were] sealed an hundred [and] forty [and] four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel.
5 Of the tribe of Juda [were] sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Reuben [were] sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Gad [were] sealed twelve thousand.
6 Of the tribe of Aser [were] sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Nepthalim [were] sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Manasses [were] sealed twelve thousand.
7 Of the tribe of Simeon [were] sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Levi [were] sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Issachar [were] sealed twelve thousand.
8 Of the tribe of Zabulon [were] sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Joseph [were] sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Benjamin [were] sealed twelve thousand.
9 After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands;
10 And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb.
11 And all the angels stood round about the throne, and [about] the elders and the four beasts, and fell before the throne on their faces, and worshipped God,
12 Saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, [be] unto our God for ever and ever. Amen.
13 And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they?
14 And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
15 Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them.
16 They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat.
17 For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.
Chapter 6 ended with the 6th Seal - the signs that have occurred and the heavens departing just before the Second Coming. Rev 7 describes the sealing of those who will stand at the Second Coming in answer to the question at the end of chapter 6.
The sealing occurs sometime between the last of the signs in Rev 6:13 (1833) and the departing of the heavens as a scroll (Rev 6:14) and the 7th seal which occurs around the time of Christʼs return (Rev 8:1).
verse 1 Four angels and four winds
Four angelʼs are seen holding back the winds (a symbol of strife and war. See Jer 25:32; 49:36; Dan 7:2) while those who are to stand at the Second Coming receive Godʼs seal - a sign which will give heavenʼs protection when the winds are let loose.
A Type in the Old Testament
Ezekiel 8 describes abominations among Godʼs people, the worst off which was sun worship (Eze 8:15-16). A mark of deliverance was set on those who opposed the abominations. The unmarked (unsealed) were destroyed. (Eze 9:4, 5).
verse 2 The Seal of God
God seals those who keep His law. (See Eph 4:22-32; Acts 5:32). “Seal the law among my disciples.” Isa 8:16-20.
A seal contains three things:
1. A Name
2. A Title
3. A Territory
eg. Donald Trump, President, of the United States. Seals are commonly fixed to laws showing by whose authority the law is given.
Godʼs law contains His seal in the seventh day Sabbath commandment:
“For [in] six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them [is]...” Exo 20:8-11. The Lord, Creator, of Heaven and earth. Being, as it is, the seal of Godʼs law, the Lord says,
“I gave them my sabbaths, to be a sign [seal] between me and them, that they might know that I [am] the LORD that sanctify them.” Eze 20:12, 20; Exo 31:13
The Sabbath reminds us that God created us and that it is He who creates in us a clean heart (Ps 51:10). The Sabbath is thus the sign of righteousness by faith. As we rest from our works on the Sabbath we remember that salvation is not by our works but by Godʼs work.
Believers are said to be sealed with the Holy Spirit (Eph 1:13; 4:30) who is given only to those who obey Godʼs commandments when they are made aware of them (Acts 5:32).
The seventh day Sabbath is the only commandment which begins “Remember.” God knew that it would be forgotten! Since the little horn thought to change Godʼs law (Dan 7:25), almost the whole Christian world has adopted Sunday, the mark or seal of Papal Rome's authority. See Appendix.
verses 2-3 Ascending from the East
The angel with the seal represents the Movement of people that call all to return to keeping Godʼs commandments. The message is increasing in strength like the sun ascending from the east.
verse 3 In the Forehead
Those who willingly allow God to make them keepers of all of His law, including the Sabbath, the sign of righteousness by faith, are said to be sealed in the forehead - a symbol of the mind or will. (cf. Eze 3:8-9).
Israel in the Revelation
The 144,000 are “of” Israel.” Israel refers to the true church for the following reasons:
(a) From its very beginning Israel was a spiritual name meant for those who “prevailed” with God. See Genesis 32:28. In Revelation “Israel” refers to those who have prevailed with God.
(b) The only entrances into the New Jerusalem are through gates each bearing a name of a tribe of Israel (Rev 21:12). ALL the redeemed who enter the city are part of "Israel"
(c) The New Covenant is made with Israel (Heb 8:8-10) so ALL who are under the New Covenant (Christians) are “Israel.”
(d) Those who accept Christ are part of Israel. “They are not all ISRAEL, who are of ISRAEL...They which are the children of the flesh, these are NOT the children of God: but the children of the PROMISE are counted for the seed.” Rom 9:6-8.
(e) “And if ye [be] Christʼs, then are ye Abrahamʼs seed [Israel], and heirs according to the promise.” Gal 3:29.
(f) Christians are true Jews. (Rom 2:28-29).
(g) James, writing to Christian brethren called them, “the twelve tribes...my brethren.” James 1:1-2.
(h) Dan is missing from the list of 12 tribes in Revelation. The list of tribes in Rev 7 and their order is unique in Scripture. They are arranged according so that the meanings of their names forms a hidden message:
Reuben A son
Gad A company (of sons) Aser Happy (after)
Nepthalim Wrestling (in prayer)
Manasses Forgetting (the past)
Simeon Hearing (God)
Levi Joined (to God)
Issachar Servants (of God)
Zabulon Dwelling (with God)
Joseph Added (to Godʼs family)
Benjamin Sons of the right hand
The meanings of their names, when read in order, reveals their experience! It describes those who accept Christ (become Christians) and are adopted into His family.
In Revelation “Israel” refers to Christians. This follows the principle that Revelation uses O.T. terms and events to represent spiritual and global end-time events. See Introduction.
verses 4-8 Identifying the 144,000
(a) They exist in the last days.
(b) Rev 13 describes the final attack on Godʼs people as the beast and his image rise to slay them (Rev 13: 15).
(c) Rev 14:1-5 describes those who will have victory over the beast and his image - the 144,000.
(d) The 144,000 are “of Israel” (v 4). As Israel refers to the church (See on v 3), the 144,000 are therefore a special group sealed from among Christians.
(e) They are the answer to the question at the end of the previous chapter, “Who shall be able to stand?” (Rev 6:17). The 144,000 are those who will stand through the final events and see Jesus Second Coming. Clearly they include more than just literal Israelites.
(f) They are Christians as they “follow the Lamb.” (Rev 14:4).
(g) John “heard” their number. (v 4). In Rev 9:16 John also “heard the number” of those who are not true followers of Christ.
(h) They have the seal of God (vs. 2-4) - They keep Godʼs Sabbath. See Appendix.
(i) They have the Fatherʼs name in their foreheads (Rev 14:1) - Name stands for character (Gen 32:28). The 144,000 have Godʼs character.
(j) Virgins (Rev 14:4) - Spiritually pure Christians (2Cor 11:2).
(k) Servants of God (Rev 7:3) - Christians who are free from sin (Rom 6:22).
(l) Firstfruits (Rev 14:4). Firstfruits can refer to first in quality (Num 18:12; Eze 44:30). The 144,000 are highest quality Christians.
(m) Without guile - Without fault (Rev 14:5; Jude 1:24 ). Like Christ (1Pet 2:22).
(n) The 144,000 are redeemed “from among men” (Rev 14:3), i.e. they do not die.
On the other hand God says of those that die, “I will redeem them from death. ” Hos 13:14.
Moses and Enoch were seen with Christ on the Mount of transfiguration (Matt 17:2-3). Moses typified the saints who die and are resurrected. Enoch typified those who will not die - the 144,000, who will be translated without seeing death. (Heb 11:5).
They are faithful Christians who will stand when Christ returns. Like Elijah, they will be translated alive from among men. Though drawn from the last and most degenerate generation through the power of the gospel, made active by the faith of Jesus, they will keep the commandments of God and cease to sin. They will demonstrate that God is just in asking obedience to His law even of fallen human beings. They will show that man has no excuse for sin and that God is just in punishing those who refused to give up their evil ways.
verse 9 The Great multitude
John sees the redeemed of all ages from all nations in heaven praising God. An angel asks John if he recognizes a subset among this multitude; i.e. those which came out of great tribulation, who felt the sun burn during the plagues (Rev 16) and were hungry. These are the 144,000 who follow Christ everywhere He goes.
WHAT CAN WE LEARN?
A people are to be developed who will reflect the character of Christ perfectly. They will reveal Godʼs love in the darkest days of earthʼs history. They will reveal to the universe that Christʼs love can convert sinners so that even under the most terrible pressure they will remain faithful and obedient to Christ their Servant and King who remained obedient for them.
The 12 men who began the church maintained their faith unto death and the church will end with 12 x 12,000 who will also remain faithful unto death.
Job - A Representative of the end-time faithful
Exhibit of Godʼs converting power
God knew Job would not sin
Job lost everything
Wicked pointed to Jobʼs condition as evidence of Godʼs displeasure
“Though he slay me yet will I trust him.” Job 13:15
Saw no good in himself
Looked forward to the departing of the heavens. Job 14:12
Exhibits of Godʼs converting power
God knows they will not sin
They will lose everything. Will not be able to buy and sell.
Wicked will point to their condition as evidence of Godʼs displeasure
“Though he slay me yet twill I trust him.” Job 13:15
See no good in themselves
Will look forward to the departing of the heavens.
The Sabbath is the seventh day
Exo 20:10 “the seventh day [is] the sabbath of the LORD thy God.” It is not any day in seven, nor is it the first day, Sunday. It is “the seventh day,” the last day of the week which memorializes creation, the only day God ever blessed, hallowed and sanctified. The day Jesus kept. It is the only commandment that begins “Remem- ber...” God knew it would be forgotten. Itʼs the day we are commanded to rest from secular work.
Which day is the Seventh day?
1. Jesus and the Jews observed the seventh day. Religious Jews continued to keep the seventh day Sabbath till today- and it equates to sunset Friday to sunset Saturday. 2. The seven day week is observed all over the world. The seventh day in many languages is some form of the word Sabbath.
3. Lunar records show that time has not been lost. The seventh day today is the same as the seventh day in Jesus time. Hundreds of eclipses over the centuries confirm this.
God gave the Sabbath at the end of creation week
Gen 2:1-2 “And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. 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.”
The Sabbath was made for mankind
Luke 2:27 “And he [Jesus] said unto them, The sabbath was made for MAN.” The Sabbath was made for all men not just Jews. The sabbath commandment is even for the “stranger.” (Exo 20:8-111; Isa 56:6).
The Sabbath will be observed by ALL peoples throughout eternity
Isaiah 66:22, 23. “For as the new heavens and the new earth, which I will make, shall remain before me, saith the LORD, so shall your seed and your name remain. And it shall come to pass, [that] from one new moon to another, and from one sab- bath to another, shall ALL FLESH come to worship before me, saith the LORD.”
Jesus observed the Sabbath
Luke 4:16 “...as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read.” John 15:10 “...I have kept my Fatherʼs commandments”
If Jesus hadnʼt kept the Sabbath He would have been a sinner. Jesus did not however keep the burdensome unbiblical traditions that the Jews had added to the Sabbath.
Christ did not change His Sabbath day
Matt 5:17-18 “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. 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.”
Christ will never change His Sabbath
Ps 89:34 “My covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing that is gone out of my lips.” Exodus 20:1 “And God spake all these words, saying...[the ten commandments, including the Sabbath commandment, follow].”
The Sabbath did not end at Calvary. It is still the Lordʼs day
“Rev 1:10 “I was in the spirit on the Lordʼs day...” This was written ~60 years after Calvary and shows that the Lord still has a day. Sometime after the Bible was finished certain writers began to call Sunday the Lordʼs day. However the inspired writers of the Bible only ever calls the seventh day the Sabbath, the Lordʼs day (Mark 2:28; Matt 12:8; Isa 58:13; Exo 20:8-11). As the Bible must be allowed to define the “Lordʼs day” and as Jesus says the 7th day is the day of which He is Lord, it is clear that the Lordʼs day is the seventh day Sabbath.
Christʼs followers observed the seventh day Sabbath even after Calvary
Luke 23:53-24:1 “...beheld the sepulchre, and how his body was laid. And they returned, and prepared spices and ointments; and rested the sabbath day according to the commandment.”
The Sabbath cannot be changed
As Jesus made no changes to the Sabbath before His death it can never be changed. Heb 9:16-17 “For where a testament [is], there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. For a testament [is] of force after men are dead: otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth.” When the testator (will maker) dies no changes can be made. Gal 3:15 “Brethren, I speak after the manner of men; Though [it be] but a manʼs covenant, yet [if it be] confirmed, no man disannulleth, or addeth thereto.”
The Apostles observed the Sabbath
Acts 17:2 “And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures,” Acts 18:4 “And he reasoned in the synagogue every sabbath, and persuaded the Jews and the Greeks.”
Acts 13:13-14, 42-44 “...they came to Antioch in Pisidia, and went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and sat down... 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 day came almost the whole city together to hear the word of God.” Acts 16:13 “And on the sabbath we went out of the city by a river side, where prayer was wont to be made; and we sat down, and spake unto the women which resorted [thither].” Note: It was Paulʼs habit to observe the Sabbath. He sought worshippers on the Sabbath. He reasoned with Jews AND Greeks. He never told the Gentiles to meet on Sundays. The lack of controversy over the Sabbath between Jews and Christians shows that they observed the same day.
The seventh day is still the sabbath
The writers of the New Testament writing AFTER Calvary still called the seventh day of the week “the Sabbath,” which they would not have done had the Sunday become the Sabbath.
Christ wanted His followers to observe the Sabbath even after His death
Matt 24:20 “But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day:” Note: The Christian fled Wed. AD66.
God foretold that the Gentiles would observe the Sabbath
“Blessed [is] the man [that] doeth this, and the son of man [that] layeth hold on it; that keepeth the sabbath from polluting it, and keepeth his hand from doing any evil... Also the sons of THE STRANGER, that join themselves to the LORD, to serve him, and to love the name of the LORD, to be his servants, EVERY ONE that keepeth the sabbath from polluting it...” Isaiah 56:2, 6, 7
The Sabbath is a sign of righteousness by faith.
The Sabbath rest reminds us that God CREATED us and that He CREATES in us a clean heart (Ps 51:10). As we rest on the Sabbath we remember that salvation is not by our works but by Godʼs works.
How important is Sabbath keeping?
James 2:10 “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one [point], he is guilty of all.” Rom 6:23 “For the wages of sin [is] death; but the gift of God [is] eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
James 4:17 “...to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth [it] not, to him it is sin.” Note: To those who know that God com- mands us to observe the seventh day Sabbath, it is a matter of life and death.
God is upset by the ministers who knowingly ignore His Sabbath
Eze 22:26 “Her priests have violated my law, and have profaned mine holy things... have hid their eyes from my sabbaths, and I am profaned among them.”
How are the saints described?
“Here is the patience of the saints: here [are] they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.” Rev 14:12. Rev 22:14 “Blessed [are] they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.”
What does this mean for those who keep Sunday?
Acts 17:30 “And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent:” Christ accepts many of those who keep Sunday. However, when the light of truth comes only those who walk in the light con- tinue to be accepted by Christ (John 3:19).
God makes a perfect law and perfect laws are not changed. God wrote it on stone to show that He means it to last.
Col 2:14-17 “Blotting out the handwrit- ing of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross... Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ. There were ceremonial sabbaths “BESIDES the [weekly] sabbaths of the Lord.” See Lev 23:32, 37-38. Colossians 2 refers to these ceremonial sabbaths such as the first day of the feast of unleavened bread which was a shadow pointing forward to Christ. These ceremonial sabbaths were “against us” but the weekly Sabbath was made “FOR man.” Mark 2:27-28. Eze 45:17 mentions the “burnt offerings, and meat offerings, and drink offerings, in the feasts, and in the new moons, and in the sabbaths.” This “law of commandments [contained] in ordinances,” Christ “abolished.” Eph 2:15. Because Christ has abolished and blotted out these ceremonial things we are not to let anyone judge our non-observance of them. Christ blotted out the CEREMONIAL LAW of ordinances (rights and ceremonies) not the moral law of ten commandments.
Exo 16:29 Let no man go out of his place on the seventh day The context shows that this applied to not going out of oneʼs place TO GATHER MANNA. Jesus went to the synagogue on the Sabbath (Luke 4:16), He walked in the corn fields (Matt 12:1) and He was not a sinner. In heaven all peoples all over the world will come to worship before God every Sabbath (Isa 66:23).
Does Exo 31:13 show that the Sabbath is a sign ONLY between God and Israel?
It does not say that it is a sign ONLY between God and literal Israel. Jesus said that the Sabbath was made for MAN (Mark 2:27). The Sabbath was given at the end of creation week long before the Jewish race existed (Gen 2:2-3). Isaiah foretold the blessing that would come on “the son of the stranger” that “keepeth the Sabbath.” (Isa 56:1-8). All men will observe the Sabbath throughout eternity (Isa 66:22-23).
The Jews released from bondage was to encourage them to keep the commandments. Our release from the bondage of sin should encourage us to keep our Lordʼs commandments.
Acts 1:12 A Sabbath days journey?
The Pharisees, not God, invented the sabbath days journey restrictions. (See Mishnah, Shabbath 7.2). It is used as a distance in Acts 1:12 but it is not a God given restriction.
Neh 9:12-13 Was the Sabbath first made known to men at Sinai?
“Thou camest down also upon mount Sinai, and spakest with them from heaven, and gavest them right judgments, and true laws, good statutes and commandments: And MADEST KNOWN unto them thy holy SABBATH, and commandest them precepts, statutes, and laws, by the hand of Moses thy servant:” Does this show that the Sabbath did not exist before Sinai?
In Ezekiel 20 God said, “...I MADE MYSELF KNOWN unto them [Israel], in bringing them forth out of the land of Egypt.” (Eze 20:9). Does this show that God did not exist before Israel came out of Egypt?! The people knew of the Sabbath before Sinai just as they knew of God before the Exodus (See Exo 16, esp... v 23). The Sabbath commandment begins with the words “Remember the Sabbath...” showing that it was already known. If Neh 9 meant that the Sabbath did not exist before Sinai then it also meant that neither did Godʼs commanded precepts, statutes, and laws for they were also given at Sinai. Men certainly knew of Godʼs law before Sinai. “Where no law is, there is no transgression (Rom 4:15) and as transgression did exist before Sinai the law existed before Sinai. The Sabbath was made for man and sanctified (set aside for holy use) at the end of creation week (Gen 2:1-3) and Adam was a man.
Where are we commanded to observe the Sabbath in the New Testament?
It would be more appropriate to ask, where are we told to STOP observing the Sabbath? The Sabbath was kept throughout the Old Testament. 59 New Testamenttexts mention the Sabbath and none tell us to stop observing it. None call it Jewish. The Apostles observed it (Luke 23:56; Acts 13:42-44; 16:13; 17:2; 18:4). The only day the Lord calls His day is the Sabbath and the Lordʼs day still exists (Rev 1:10). The Sabbath existed in AD66 when the Christians fled Jerusalem (Matt 24:20). The lack of any controversy between Jews & Christians as to which day to observe is powerful evidence that they kept the same day. Nowhere in the Bible are we told to observe Sunday.
SUNDAY, THE FIRST DAY OF THE WEEK, IN THE BIBLE
Roman Catholics openly admit that they observe traditions that are not found in the Bible. Other Christian churches (“Protestants” who protest against the Catholic doctrine) claim that all their teachings come from the Bible and the Bible alone. Roman Catholicism mocks these churches for observing Sunday, the first day of the week, instead of the 7th day Sabbath that God commanded in the Ten Commandments. The Catholic Church openly claims that Sunday observance is a Catholic tradition which the Bible nowhere commands. Such a claim is easily tested.
The first day of the week is only mentioned nine times in the entire Bible. Either Sunday observance in place of the 7th day Sabbath is taught in these texts or we must conclude that Catholicism is correct and Sunday observance is an unbiblical tradition...
1. Gen 1:5 The first day is a work day.
2. Matt 28:1 The first day - Sunday, is shown to come AFTER the Sabbath day.
3. Mark 16:1-2 The first day - Sunday, is shown to come AFTER the Sabbath. Sunday is seen to be an appropriate day to do work which the disciples postponed over the holy Sabbath.
4. Mark 16:9 After resting in the grave over the Sabbath Christ appeared to Mary Magdelene on the first day of the week.
5. Luke 23:56-24:1 The first day - Sunday, is shown to come AFTER the Sabbath. Sunday is seen to be an appropriate day to do work which the disciples postponed over the holy Sabbath.
6. John 20:1 Mary Magdelene went to the sepulchre on the first day of the week expecting to find Jesus dead, not risen.
7. John 20:1, 19 The disciples were assembled on the first day of the week - Sunday, NOT to celebrate Christʼs resurrection but “for fear of the Jews.” John 20:19.
At that time they did not even know that Jesus would rise! See John 20:9. No command is given to observe Sunday in place of the seventh day Sabbath.
8. Acts 20:7-8 This was a farewell meet- ing at which time they “broke bread” (had a meal).
(a) Breaking bread does not show the day to be holy as they broke bread “daily.” (Acts 2:46).
(b) No command is given to observe the first day in place of the seventh day Sabbath.
(c) This was not a regular meeting but extraordinary. It was a farewell meeting which explains why Paul preached till midnight (Acts 20:7) and left the believers the following morning on a long journey.
(d) As Biblical days begin at sunset (Gen 1:5; Lev 23:32) this meeting on the evening of the first day of the week was what we call “Saturday night.” (See the New English Bible). When Sunday morning arrived Paul departed on his 19 mile journey to catch a ship at Assos. (Acts 20:11).
9. 1Cor 16:2 This was instruction to put offering money aside at home on the first day. (a) There is no reference here to a public meeting.
(b) The offerings were to be stored up “at home.” Many translations say “at home.” (c) Storing up offerings at home on a day
does not make that day a Sabbath. (d) As in all scripture, the first day of the week is given no special title. It is simply called the first day. (e) No command is given to observe the first day in place of the seventh day Sab- bath.
Having looked at EVERY verse in the Bible which mentions the first day of the week we must conclude that the Catholic Church is correct when she states that the Bible nowhere commands us to observe Sunday in place of the 7th day Sabbath!
The Bible contains all things God expects of us (2Tim 3:16) and Christians who wish to follow Christʼs example, and do as the Bible teaches, should keep holy the Lordʼs Sabbath day (Mk 2:27-28; 1Pet 2:21-22).
When people have to use the teachings of unispired men or church leaders to support their doctrine we may know that they are not following the Bible. While Sabbath keeping does not save us, wilfully breaking it, when we know God commands it, leads to sin and “the wages of sin is death.” Rom 6:23.
THE RISE OF SUNDAY
As the Bible nowhere commands anyone to observe Sunday how did it start? Non-biblical evidence for Sunday observance appears soon after ~ AD100. However this does not mean that Sbbath- keeping changed abruptly. For centuries most of the church continued to observe the Sabbath:
“Although almost all the churches throughout the world celebrate the sacred mysteries on the sabbath of every week, yet the Christians of Alexandria and at Rome, on account of some ancient tradition, have ceased to do this.” Socrates, Ecclesiastical History, book 5, chap. 22, trans. in Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, 2nd series (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1979), Vol. 2, p. 132.
“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.” Sozomen, Ecclesiastical History, book 7, chap. 19, trans. in Nicene and Post- Nicene Fathers, 2nd series, Vol. 2, p. 390.
By the 4th century most Christians had begun to observe both Sabbath and Sunday:
Three factors led to Sunday observance:
2. Sun worship
3. The church of Rome
A Jewish revolt in AD135, led to the Roman Emperor Hadrian outlawing Judaism throughout the Roman Empire. This caused Christian leaders to distance themselves from the Jews to avoid persecution.
2. Sun worship
In the early part of the second century the Sun worship cult, Sol Invictus (the Invincible Sun) became dominant in Rome. Sun- worship influenced Christian thought as is seen in art and literature, the birthday of the Sun became Christmas, and churches were orientated toward the sunrise in the East. In view of Sundayʼs popularity among pagan Sun worshipers, and the esteem with which many Christians regarded Sunday, the Roman emperor Constantine issued the first civil Sunday law on March 7, AD321. Constantine hoped that, by making Sunday a holiday, he would ensure the support of both groups.
“On the venerable day of the Sun [venerabili die Solis] let the magistrates and people residing in the cities rest, and let all workshops be closed. In the country, however, persons engaged in agriculture may freely and lawfully continue their pursuits.”
Codex Justinianus, book 3, title 12, 3, trans. in Schaff, History of the Christian Church 5th ed. (New York: Charles Scribner, 1902), Vol. 3, p. 380, note 1.
3. The church at Rome
The church at Rome was the most powerful in the world and was comprised primarily of Gentiles which contributed to the differentiation from the Jews. In the late second century Sunday was established as the day to celebrate Jesusʼ death & resurrection rather than on the Jewish Passover (14th of the Jewish month Nisan). This added to Sundayʼs significance and further distanced the church from its Jewish roots. Several decades after Constantineʼs civil law the church of Rome at the Council of Laodicea (c. AD364), issued the first ecclesiastical Sunday law stipulating that Christians should honour Sunday, and, “...if possible, do no work on that day.”
It also denounced the practice of resting on the Sabbath, instructing that Christians should “not Judaize and be idle on Saturday [Gr. sabbaton, “the Sabbath”], but shall work on that day.” Council of Laodicea, Canon 29, in C. J. Hefele, A History of the Christian Councils, trans. and ed. by Henry N. Oxenham (Edinburgh: T. and T. Clark, 1896), p. 316.
In AD538, the year which marked the beginning of the Papacyʼs 1260 year reign (See on Dan 7:25), the Roman Catholic Third Council of Orleans issued a law against even agricultural labour on Sundays. Canon 28 of that council states: “...agricultural labor ought to be laid aside, in order that the people may not be prevented from attending church.” Giovanni Do- menico Mansi, ed., Sacrorum Conciliorum, Vol. 9, col. 919, as quoted by Maxwell, God Cares, Vol. 1, p. 129.
Though Constantine had issued Sunday laws (AD321) it was Roman Catholicism which eventually claimed to have transferred the Sabbath to Sunday as evidence of her authority.
Catholic Catechisms (Official books of Roman Catholic doctrine) state:
“Q. Have you any other way of proving that the Church [Catholic] has power to institute festivals of precept? A. Had she not such power, she could not have done that in which all modern religionists agree with her;- she could not have substituted the observance of Sunday the first day of the week, for the observance of Saturday the seventh day, a change for which there is no Scriptural authority.” S. Keenan, A Doctrinal Catechism, (3rd American ed., rev.; New York: T. W. Strong, late Edward Dunigan & Bro., 1876), p 174.
“The observance of the Lordʼs day [he means Sunday] is founded not on any command of God, but on the authority of the church.” Augsburg Confession of Faith, (Lutheran), quoted in Catholic Sabbath Manual, part 2. chap. 1, sec. 10.
“It is quite clear that, however rigidly or devoutly we may spend Sunday, we are not keeping the Sabbath...The Sabbath was founded on a specific command. We can plead no such command for the observance of Sunday...There is not a single sentence in the New Testament to suggest that we incur any penalty for violating the supposed sanctity of Sunday.” R. W. Dale, D.D., (Congregationalist) The Ten Commandments. pp. 106, 107.
Anglican (Church of England)
“Where are we told in the Scripture that we are to keep the first day at all? We are commanded to keep the seventh; but we are nowhere commanded to keep the first day.” Isaac Williams, B.D. (Church of England), Plain Sermons on the Catechism, Vol. 1, pp. 334-336.
The choice for Christians today is between being Biblically-based and obeying God or keeping the unbiblical tradition of the Roman Church.
“Choose you this day whom ye will serve...” Josh 24:15. As for me and my house we will serve the Lord.