Is the Sabbath on Saturday or Sunday? People ask this question all the time.
Most Christians attend church on Sunday. But there’s a vocal minority that insists Saturday is the true day for Christians to worship.
But what is the true Sabbath – Saturday or Sunday? And does it matter?
Well, it’s quite simple to figure it all out. Let’s look in the Bible and find our answer.
Here’s the short answer:
So the Sabbath is on Saturday. Except for the little bit of the Sabbath on Friday evening.
This is how the Bible defines every day. It’s from evening at sundown until the following evening at sundown. (See Genesis 1:5)
It’s different from the way we define days today from midnight-til-midnight.
Does the Bible Say Saturday is the Sabbath?
The Bible clearly defines the Sabbath in Genesis 2:2.
Sabbath is the seventh day –it’s what we know as Saturday. But why is the Sabbath on Saturday?
Our Creator had finished all his work in six days, so He blessed the seventh day on which He rested –and called it the Sabbath.
The word itself comes from the Hebrew word Shabbat, meaning “to cease, to end, to rest”. And what did the Lord do on that day?
Yes. He rested. That’s exactly what the Lord did on the seventh day!
And the seventh day of the week is…?
That’s right – it’s Saturday. Or to be more accurate, it’s from sunset Friday until sunset on Saturday.
But this was at the very beginning of creation.
Fast forward several centuries or more, and we come to the Ten Commandments and more specifically number 4 of God’s Top Ten:
This commandment is a nod to God’s own rest after creating everything in six days.
It’s aimed at the Israelites and it serves a specific purpose – to remember how they were led out of bondage, and who led them out.
However, all of this is from the old covenant in the Old Testament. You do realize that we’re currently living under a new covenant, right?
Sabbath as a Rest Day under the New Covenant
By his death on the cross followed by his resurrection, Jesus instituted the new covenant.
Note: the Resurrection of Jesus Christ is an extremely well-attested historical fact. Nearly all of the disciples chose painful, humiliating deaths rather than deny that which they had seen with their own eyes.
And there are many historical records besides the Bible that confirm the Resurrection.
He fulfilled God’s promise that He will forgive the sins of those who believe that Jesus is God.
He died for our iniquities and He was raised from the dead so that we can be saved (Romans 10:9 ESV).
Our Lord Jesus Christ fulfilled the Old Testament law (Matthew 5:17) and Christ lets us know that the salvation He provides is infinitely more valuable than rules:
Now our rest is in Jesus. Since the Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath, we see by the new covenant that salvation is not found in a day but in a person.
And who is that person? Jesus Christ!
He is the Lord of the Sabbath (Matthew 12:8 ESV) and he alone is our rest.
Thus, we don’t rest on a specific day of the week (Saturday). As believers, we now rest 24/7 through our Lord and Savior Christ Jesus!
Or simply put, we’re not obliged to observe the Sabbath as New Testament believers, because by believing in Jesus Christ we are fulfilling all of the Law, including the Sabbath Law.
Why do Christians Worship on Sunday?
Most Christians attend church on Sunday because it is the Lord’s Day.
It’s the day Jesus Christ rose from the dead. Jesus rose on the Old Testament Feast of First Fruits because Jesus Christ is the First Fruits of the dead (see Revelation 1:5).
This feast was ordained by God as a foreshadowing of the Messiah’s resurrection to come hundreds of years after it was instituted during the Exodus of Israel from bondage in Egypt.
Attending church on Sunday is about more than worship. It’s about rest.
When God himself observed the first Sabbath in Genesis, He rested (Genesis 2:3 ESV). In the New Testament, Jesus Christ himself is our rest.
Sunday has been the go-to worship day for Christians since the 1st century because it’s a way to celebrate Jesus’ victory over death and sin.
Also, these worship services happen on the first day of the week (Sunday) and not on the Sabbath (Saturday) as some people think.
The book of the Acts of the Apostles clearly shows us that Sunday is indeed the first day of the week, not Monday:
However, both Sunday and Saturday have been standard meeting/worship days for the Christian church for centuries.
Now we can see why Sunday worship has remained the norm in the church.
Remember: The Bible Does NOT Command Sunday Worship or Saturday Worship in the New Covenant
While Scripture does mention Christians worshipping on Sundays, it doesn’t command us to gather and worship on this specific day.
You won’t find such commandments anywhere in the Word of the Living God.
Nor does Sunday replace the Sabbath, which is Saturday.
Just as we now rest continually in the Lord Jesus who is our eternal Sabbath, we’re to worship Him all the time. Not only on a particular day of the week:
“Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name.” Hebrews 13:15 ESV (Emphasis added)
Don’t limit your worship to Sunday church gatherings only.
Our Heavenly Father deserves all praise and worship, continually. Every single day, not just on the first day of the week (Biblically) or what we currently consider the last day of the week.
This includes folks who want to attend church on Saturday.
Do you like to go to church on Saturday? Have at it!
Just remember that Saturday church attendance doesn’t make anybody a better Christian than people who go to church on Sunday.
When Did the Pope Change the Sabbath to Sunday?
The Pope never changed the Sabbath. The Sabbath cannot be changed.
Some people say the Pope changed the Sabbath, but the facts show otherwise. If you want to read a deeper article on the subject, see my post that clearly shows the Catholic Church never changed the Sabbath.
And if the Catholic Church didn’t change the Sabbath, then neither did the Pope.
Regardless, Constantine -the Emperor of Rome- did attempt to hijack the Saturday Sabbath concept.
In A.D. 338 Constantine’s court bishop basically rebranded the Sabbath (Saturday) into Sunday.
More specifically, Sunday observance came about in A.D. 336 when the solemnity was transferred from Saturday to Sunday. This was done by the Council of Laodicea.
Hmmm, do you remember what the Bible says about the church of Laodicea?
“I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth” Revelation 3:15-16 ESV
But the Christian church had already been assembling on Sunday since 32 AD. And why were they meeting on Sundays?
- Because Jesus’ resurrection was on a Sunday (1 Corinthians 15:4)
- Because the Holy Ghost came down on the apostles on Pentecost Sunday (Acts 2:1)
Civil Legislation About Sunday from A.D. 321
In A.D. 321 the Roman Emperor Constantine issued a decree that people in the cities are to rest on Sundays.
But this happened during the fourth century. Christians had already been assembling on Sundays since the first century, so this wasn’t exactly new.
What was new then? The interference with the Sabbath.
The Old Testament clearly states that abstaining from all work is to be done on the seventh day of the week, which is Saturday.
So it’s easy to see how Constantine’s decree caused a lot of confusion and controversy among Christians.
Of course, none of this actually changed the day of the Sabbath.
It’s been on Saturday ever since the Lord blessed this (seventh) day and made it holy – the day on which He rested from all His creation-related work.
No church denomination or other religious organization can change this.
Sure, they can change the day of assembly but they cannot change the Sabbath day.
Is Sunday a Pagan Day of Worship?
As its name suggests (sun-day), Sunday is considered the day of the sun god and pagan false deities in general.
There’s no getting around this fact.
During antiquity many pagans worshipped various Persian and Egyptian false solar deities on the exact same day – Sunday.
And don’t forget. Christmas Day is celebrated on December 25th. This day was known in the ancient world as Saturnalia.
It was a day of pagan worship filled with all kinds of immoral rituals I won’t bring up here. But as Christianity grew and grew, it overcame evil with good.
December 25th stopped being a celebration of immorality and started being a celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. (Here’s where you can learn more about it at my post about the difference between Jesus and Santa Claus)
Getting back to Sunday worship, within Christianity it is typically associated with Constantine’s particular decree that supposedly changed the Sabbath from Saturday to Sunday.
But he didn’t change the Sabbath, since it cannot be changed. God has blessed the seventh day and made it holy, that’s it.
This was more of a political move by Emperor Constantine.
He was attempting to gain more power since the formerly pagan Roman Empire had flipped from majority pagan to majority Christian.
And why? Because Christians had already been attending church on Sundays since AD 32.
But don’t get me wrong – Sunday had previously been a well-known day for pagan worship.
But not any longer. Sunday was conquered by the Christian church and it’s true identity was revealed. Sunday is the Lord’s Day!
Let’s not forget what Apostle Paul wrote:
“See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.” -Colossians 2:8, ESV
As believers we should absolutely NOT be involved in any pagan rituals or practices.
But if your church decides to worship the Lord on Sunday, that doesn’t even remotely mean that you’re engaging in a pagan worship service.
What truly matters is to focus on worshipping our Creator every single day, whether it’s on a Saturday or a Sunday.
All in all, Sabbath IS and always HAS been on Saturday.
The Sabbath is the seventh day of the week – the day on which God rested from all work following the six days of creation.
No man can change this, not even an emperor.
The Israelites were commanded by God to observe the Sabbath and keep it holy as part of the 10 commandments.
But now, our rest lies in Christ Jesus. He is the Lord of the Sabbath (Luke 6:5) and our eternal rest.
And when Jesus declared himself Lord of the Sabbath, he made a Blatant Claim to be God (read my post about Jesus’ Many Blatant Claims to be God.)
By dying on the cross and rising from the dead, Jesus fulfilled the law, meaning that we now have non-stop rest in Him!
So don’t feel condemned for not taking a day off from work each week or for not commemorating particular holy days.
Remember these spirit-filled words by the Apostle Paul:
“One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. He who regards one day as special, does so to the Lord. He who eats meat, eats to the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who abstains, does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God.” Romans 14:5-6
References for deeper study: