How Did Sabbath Change to Sunday?

Q. Why is it accepted that the Catholic Church had the authority to change the Lord’s Day of Rest from the seventh day to  Sunday, the first day of the week, when it is argued that women cannot be ordained, as the practice is not biblical??

A. Because Jesus gave His apostles, the first priests and bishops, the authority to govern the Church after His ascension. How could it have been otherwise? Someone had to do it.

We have no scripture in which Jesus states, “You may not ordain women. Ordain men only.” And likewise we have no scripture in which Jesus says, “After my resurrection I want you to celebrate the Day of Rest on Sunday instead of on Saturday.”

And for these very reasons there are people of Christian faith who are absolutely certain that :

Women should be ordained to the priesthood.

The Day of Rest should still be on Saturday

However there are scriptural implications against both of these assertions.

Male Ordination

Jesus only chose men to be His disciples and priests. He was not afraid of the culture…He was GOD! If He had wanted priestesses He would have ordained women and no doubt His Mother would have been at the top of the list. Jesus’ practice IS a precedent followed by the Church for 2000 years. The practice of male ordination, has been infallibly declared by the ordinary magesterium and by the popes over and over and over. Most recently by John Paul II in Ordinatio Sacerdotlis paragraph 4. It will not change. For more info: Here, & Here

Day of Rest

The Lord’s Day of rest was changed from Saturday to Sunday gradually. Jewish Christians continued to observe the Saturday Sabbath while the gentile converts , and Jewish Christians also, held their Christian meetings on Sunday (Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 16:2) and with the disappearance of the all-Jewish Christian churches, Sunday was exclusively observed as the Lord’s Day. Celebrations of communion on Sunday are seen in Sacred Scripture.

Acts 20:7 On the first day of the week we came together to break bread (communion). Paul spoke to the people and, because he intended to leave the next day, kept on talking until midnight.

I Corinthians 16:2 On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money …

In addition to this Jesus’ appearances to His disciples occurred on the Day of His Resurrection, Sunday, or a week later, again on a Sunday. So, the Holy Day became the day to celebrate His resurrection.

Mark 16:9ff When Jesus rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had driven seven demons….Afterward Jesus appeared in a different form to two of them while they were walking in the country..Later Jesus appeared to the Eleven as they were eating; he rebuked them for their lack of faith and their stubborn refusal to believe those who had seen him after he had risen.

Luke 24:1 On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb….13 Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. 14 They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. 15 As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them;…36 While they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them (the disciples) and said to them, “Peace be with you.

John 20:1Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb… 19On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them…24Now Thomas (called Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples…26A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them

St. Chrysostom (345 A.D.)and many other interpreters of the scripture explain, that the Christians even at this time, must have changed the sabbath into the first day of the week, (the Lord’s day), as all Christians now keep it. This change was undoubtedly made by the authority of the church; hence the exercise of the power, which Christ had given to her: for he is Lord of the sabbath.

This power or authority was given in Mt. 16 and exhibited in Acts 15. The authority to “bind and loose” is a Hebrew idiom meaning the “authority to rule”. This was given to Peter and the disciples.

To Peter:

Matthew 16:8 And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. 19I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

To the Disciples:

Matthew 18:18 “I tell you the truth, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.

The First Church Council at Jerusalem both Peter and James exercise their authority to bind and loose:

After much debate and discussion about the issue at hand Peter stood up and made the decision and answered the questions.

Acts 15:7 After much discussion, Peter got up and addressed them: “Brothers, you know that some time ago God made a choice among you that the Gentiles might hear from my lips the message of the gospel and believe. 8God, who knows the heart, showed that he accepted them by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as he did to us. 9He made no distinction between us and them, for he purified their hearts by faith. 10Now then, why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of the disciples a yoke that neither we nor our fathers have been able to bear? 11No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are.Then all the multitude kept silence(End of debate)

Then James, the bishop of Jerusalem made practical application of Peter’s ruling, by his (James’) authority also to bind and loose but under the primacy of Peter.

Acts 15: 13,19-21 James spoke up: “Brothers, listen to me…19“It is my judgment, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God. 20Instead we should write to them, telling them to abstain from food polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from the meat of strangled animals and from blood. 21For Moses has been preached in every city from the earliest times and is read in the synagogues on every Sabbath.”

So, Peter and the Apostles, and their successors were given the authority to make decisions, in spite of the laws of the Old Covenant. Sabbath was changed from Saturday to Sunday, circumcision was no longer mandatory, animal sacrifices were no longer required, etc. Many things the Jews thought would never change, did change in the New Covenant. These changes were the very reason they were convinced Jesus was a heretic. Logically, to insist that the Sabbath must still be Saturday and not Sunday, one must also insist on circumcision, animal sacrifices, all the Jewish feasts, Passover, etc.

3 Responses

  1. Thank you so much for enlightening me to why we worship on the Sabbath. I believe I am right in assuming that we are no longer under the law, but under grace. To me that would me that if we “love the Lord with all of our heart , mind and soul,” we will be convicted by the Holy Spirit if it isn’t right and not feel condemned. To me that is a very big difference.
    God bless,

  2. Hi,

    Galatians 3:28 says: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Why then is there still discrimination against women being ordained? Many churches today have women leaders. Are they wrong? I do not believe so, because of this very verse and God gifts all people, some with leadership giftings, and not because of gender. I see that you note it is because Jesus did not choose women to be disciples, but the Holy Spirit came upon all that were in the house on Pentecost. And Jesus sent them out to make disciples of all nations.

    Secondly, why is there so much need to follow these exact actions of Jesus? Should priests wear robes 24/7, not shave, wear sandals and never drive? I know of a catholic school that has one of the highest teen pregnancy rates in our country. There isn’t even anything taught about abstainence in class. Why is there such a need to do these things like not ordaining women, and wearing robes at mass, when there is little emphasis on obeying the ten commandments?


  3. Dear Laura,

    We are all priests, both male and female. Please see this post: Priesthood of all Believers

    but only men are ordained into the ministerial priesthood (Why Can’t Women be Catholic Priests? Part 1 & Part 2

    Jesus founded His Church on the authority of the Disciples to rule. The Catholic Church still retains this authority in her pope to make decisions for the Church, and that is why parish priests don’t wear robes 24/7 although many order priests do wear them 24/7. As for the Catholic School the Catholic Church has been in a major moral and doctrinal slump for the past 40 years but this is changing. Unfortunately these kinds of cycles are noted throughout the history of the Church. Many Priests, nuns, school principals and teachers have abdicated their duty to teach the historic Catholic Faith and have been teaching their own version of what they hoped would be a more acceptable brand. But it has failed miserably.

    Nancy Pelosi, Ted Kennedy, Joe Biden etc. do not represent authentic Catholic Faith. In a Church this large and this old one can always find things to criticize. I became Catholic because I was convinced by the historical evidence and scripture that the Catholic Church is THE CHURCH founded by JESUS CHRIST HIMSELF.
    And that is the Church I want to belong to.

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