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Early Church Fathers on Sabbath
Here is what the Early Church Fathers said about the Sabbath, state of the dead, eating of meats, and keeping the Jewish Law of Moses!
Leviticus 23:39 ......on the first day shall be a sabbath, and on the eighth day shall be a sabbath.
Keep in mind that these are the earliest of the church Fathers. They pre existed the origin of the Roman Catholic Church
which took place between 300 to 400 AD, and pre existed the creation of the Pope which took place several hundred years later!
The historical fact is, that the first Christian converts were Jews. These Jewish believers in Christ, continued to keep the Saturday Sabbath as their tradition and law commanded. As Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles, led Gentiles to Christ, they would gather to worship the following day, Sunday. The reason was simple. Gentiles were forbidden by the Jewish Law to enter Jewish Synagogues and defile the Jewish Holy Place of worship! Paul had a tremendous struggle with the Jewish Converts called "Judaizers" who would follow him from city to city, telling the Gentile converts that they could not be saved unless they kept the Jewish laws, which included Sabbath Keeping. Paul would have to return, or write letters like the one he wrote to the Galatians, and convince these Gentile converts that they were saved by faith in Jesus Christ, not by keeping the Jewish Law! So the early Christian church worshipped on both days, from the very onset of the Christian faith! The Jewish Converts on Saturday, the Gentile converts on Sunday! As the Jewish converts passed away, and the Gentile church continued to thrive, it would only be reasonable to note that the observance of Sunday took precedence!
1. The Encyclopedia Britannica under "Sabbath" and "Sunday" says. "In the early Christian Church Jewish Christians continued to keep the sabbath, like other points of the law ... On the other hand, Paul from the first days of Gentile Christianity, laid it down definitely that the Jewish sabbath was not binding on Christians. Controversy with Judaizers led in process of time to direct condemnation of those who still kept the Jewish day ... In 321 A.D. Constantine made the Christian sabbath, Sunday, the rest day for the Roman Empire, but it was observed by Christians for nearly 300 years before it became law by Constantine."
2. The New International Encyclopedia on "Sunday" says, "For some time after the foundation of the Christian Church the converts from Judaism still observed the Jewish sabbath to a greater or lesser extent, at first, it would seem, concurrently with the celebration of the first day; but before the end of the apostolic period, Sunday, known as the Lord's Day
, had thoroughly established itself as the special day to be sanctified (set apart) by rest from secular labor and by public worship. The hallowing of Sunday appears incontestably as a definite law in the Church by the beginning of the fourth century; and the Emperor Constantine confirmed the custom by a law of the state."
THE EPISTLE OF IGNATIUS
TO THE MAGESIANS
Ignatius was the second Bishop of the church of Antioch and a personal disciple of one or more of the apostles! He was already born when Jesus was crucified, and was a major part of the origins of the newborn Christian church! He was NOT a Roman Catholic!
pg 126 (Chapter 9) The Sabboth and the Lord's Day, the 8th day
no longer observing the Sabbath, but living in the observance of the Lord's Day, on which also our life has sprung up again by Him...
let us therefore no longer keep the Sabbath after the Jewish manner, and rejoice in days of idleness; for “he that does not work, let him not eat.” For say the [holy] oracles, “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat thy bread.” But let every one of you keep the Sabbath after a spiritual manner, rejoicing in meditation on the law, not in relaxation of the body, admiring the workmanship of God, and not eating things prepared the day before, nor using lukewarm drinks, and walking within a prescribed space, nor finding delight in dancing and plaudits which have no sense in them. And after the observance of the Sabbath, let every friend of Christ keep the
Lord's Day as a festival, the resurrection-day, the queen and chief of all the days [of the week]. Looking forward to this, the prophet declared, “To the end, for the eighth day,” on which our life both sprang up again, and the victory over death was obtained in Christ,
THE EPISTLE OF BARNABAS
Barnabas was the companion of Paul the Apostle!
pg 271 (Chapter 15) Eighth Day Worship
Ye perceive how He speaks: Your present Sabbaths are not acceptable to Me, but that is which I have made, [namely this,] when, giving rest to all things, I shall make a beginning of the eighth day, that is, a beginning of another world. Wherefore, also, we keep the eighth day with joyfullness, the day also on which Jesus rose again from the dead. And when He had manifested Himself, He ascended into the heavens.
2nd Apology of Justin Martyr
(Letter to a Jew named Trypho)
pg 382 meat law directed to rebellious Israel (Chapter 20)
“Moreover, you were commanded to abstain from certain kinds of food, in order that you might keep God before your eyes while you ate and drank, seeing that you were prone and very ready to depart from His knowledge, as Moses also affirms: `The people ate and drank, and rose up to play.' And again: `Jacob ate, and was satisfied, and waxed fat; and he who was beloved kicked: he waxed fat, he grew thick, he was enlarged, and he forsook God who had made him.' For it was told you by Moses in the book of Genesis, that God granted to Noah, being a just man, to eat of every animal, but not of flesh with the blood, which is dead.” And as he was ready to say, “as the green herbs,” I anticipated him: “Why do you not receive this statement, `as the green herbs,' in the sense in which it was given by God, to wit, that just as God has granted the herbs for sustenance to man, even so has He given the animals for the diet of flesh? But, you say, a distinction was laid down thereafter to Noah, because we do not eat certain herbs. As you interpret it, the thing is incredible. And first I shall not occupy myself with this, though able to say and to hold that every vegetable is food, and fit to be eaten. But although we discriminate
between green herbs, not eating all, we refrain from eating some, not because they are common or unclean, but because they are bitter, or deadly, or thorny. But we lay hands on and take of all herbs which are sweet, very nourishing and good, whether they are marine or land plants. Thus also God by the mouth of Moses commanded you to abstain from unclean and improper and violent animals: when, moreover, though you were eating manna in the desert, and were seeing all those wondrous acts wrought for you by God, you made and worshipped the golden calf.
pg 373 Law Abrogated (Chapter 11) Justin Martyr writing to a Jew
But we do not trust through Moses or through the law; for then we would do the same as ourselves. But now - (for I have read that there shall be a final law, and a covenant, the chiefest of all, which it is now incumbent on all men to observe, as many as are seeking after the inheritance of God. For the law promulgated on Horeb is now old, and belongs to yourselves alone; but this is for all universally. Now, law placed against law has abrogated that which is before it, and a covenant which comes after in like manner has put an end to the previous one; and an eternal and final law - namely, Christ - has been given to us, and the covenant is trustworthy, after which there shall be no law, no commandment, no ordinance.
pg 374 Perpetual (continuous, everyday) Sabboth (Chapter 12)
The Lawgiver is present, yet you do not see Him; to the poor the Gospel is preached, the blind see, yet you do not understand. You have now need of a second circumcision, though you glory greatly in the flesh. The new law requires you to keep perpetual sabbath, and you, because you are idle for one day, suppose you are pious, not discerning why this has been commanded you: and if you eat unleavened bread, you say the will of God has been fulfilled. The Lord our God does not take pleasure in such observances: if there is any perjured person or a thief among you, let him cease to be so; if any adulterer, let him repent; then he has kept the sweet and true sabbaths of God. If any one has impure hands, let him wash and be pure.
pg 390 Salvation for Jews ONLY through Christ - No Sabboth keeping to inherit Kingdom of God (Chapter 26)
And I replied, “I do not say so; but those who have persecuted and do persecute Christ, if they do not repent, shall not inherit anything on the holy mountain. But the Gentiles, who have believed on Him, and have repented of the sins which they have committed, they shall receive the inheritance along with the patriarchs and the prophets, and the just men who are descended from Jacob, even although they neither keep the Sabbath, nor are circumcised, nor observe the feasts. Assuredly they shall receive the holy inheritance of God.
pg 399 The New Law - The law to be AFTER Moses, NOT the law BY Moses (Chapter 34)
For where it is said, `The law of the Lord is perfect,' you do not understand it of the law which was to be after Moses, but of the law which was given by Moses, although God declared that He would establish a new law and a new covenant.
Pg 598 The Body and Soul are NOT the same (CHAPTER 10)
The resurrection is a resurrection of the flesh which died. For the spirit dies not; the soul is in the body, and without a soul it cannot live. The body, when the soul forsakes it, is not. For the body is the house of the soul; and the soul the house of the spirit. These three, in all those who cherish a sincere hope and unquestioning faith in God, will be saved.
Irenaus (book 3)
Irenaus was Bishop of the church in Lyons, France!
pg 926 The Law terminated with John. (Chapter 4)
2. Since, then, the law originated with Moses, it terminated with John as a necessary consequence. Christ had come to fulfill it: wherefore “the law and the prophets were” with them “until John.” And therefore Jerusalem, taking its commencement from David, and fulfilling its own times, must have an end of legislation when the new covenant was revealed
pg 956 Sabbaths were given as a “sign.” Righteous Abraham did NOT observe Sabbaths (Chapter 16) (Irenaus refers to Ezekiel 20:12)
This same does Ezekiel the prophet say with regard to the Sabbaths: “Also I gave them My Sabbaths, to be a sign between Me and them, that they might know that I am the Lord, that sanctify them.” And in Exodus, God says to Moses: “And ye shall observe My Sabbaths; for it shall be a sign between Me and you for your generations.” These things, then, were given for a sign;
And that man was not justified by these things, but that they were given as a sign to the people, this fact shows, - that Abraham himself, without circumcision and without observance of Sabbaths, “believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness; and he was called the friend of God.”
Pg 817 Rich man (named Dives) and Lazarus have memory of this world, was a true story, not a parable of Luke 16 (Irenaus Chapter 34)
1. The Lord has taught with very great fullness, that souls not only continue to exist, not by passing from body to body, but that they preserve the same form [in their separate state] as the body had to which they were adapted, and that they remember the deeds which they did in this state of existence, and from which they have now ceased, - in that narrative which is recorded respecting the rich man and that Lazarus who found repose in the bosom of Abraham. In this account He states that Dives knew Lazarus after death, and Abraham in like manner, and that each one of these persons continued in his own proper position, and that [Dives] requested Lazarus to be sent to relieve him - [Lazarus], on whom he did not [formerly] bestow even the crumbs [which fell] from his table. [He tells us] also of the answer given by Abraham, who was acquainted not only with what respected himself, but Dives also, and who enjoined those who did not wish to come into that place of torment to believe Moses and the prophets, and to receive the preaching of Him who was to rise again from the dead. By these things, then, it is plainly declared that souls continue to exist that they do not pass from body to body, that they possess the form of a man, so that they may be recognized, and retain the memory of things in this world; ( Irenaus 120-202 AD)
Bishop of Ceserea around 300 AD
An early church historian, Eusebius Pamphilus, Bishop of Ceserea around 300 AD, writes that Jesus raised those who were dead and took them to heaven with him!
"...How he humbled himself, and died, and lowered his divinity; what things, also he suffered from the Jews; how he was crucified, and descended into hell, (Hades) and burst the bars which had never yet been broken, and rose again, and also raised with himself the dead that had slept for ages. And how he descended alone, but ascended with a great multitude to his Father."
(Eusebius Pamphilus Ecclesiastical History, Book I, Chapter XIII )
The above statement gives truth to the scripture written below as God brings the souls of the dead saints, which are now in heaven, with him when He returns:
1 Thes. 4:14
For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.
For a longer list of early fathers refrences to the Sabbath and the first day of the week, scroll to the bottom portion of the following link