Our previous post was about the Seventh Day Adventist Church. This post lists and discusses other churches that also observe the Sabbath. Who’s Who in the Kingdom writes about important topics that will inform readers. This is an important topic. This article is a summary, or a condensed version of an article. Please visit Wikipedia.com for source material and to read the entire article.
The seventh-day Sabbath, observed from Friday sunset to Saturday sunset, is an important part of the beliefs and practices of Seventh-day churches. These churches emphasize biblical references such as the ancient Hebrew practice of beginning a day at sundown, and the scriptural account of creation in Genesis wherein an “evening and morning” established a day, predating the giving of the Ten Commandments (thus the command to “remember” the Sabbath). The seventh day of the week is recognized in many languages and calendars as Sabbath, including the calendar and services of the Eastern Orthodox Church. It is still observed in modern Judaism and Messianic Judaism Congregations in relation to Mosaic Law.
The majority of Christians, including Eastern Orthodox, believe the Mosaic Law to be superseded. Yet it is only in the west that Christians do not observe the Sabbath on the seventh day. Instead, the Sabbath is transferred to Sunday, the first day of the week, merged with the Lord’s Day and the day of Christ’s resurrection, forming (in some traditions) a “Christian Sabbath“.
Some western Christians, often called “seventh-day Sabbatarians”, seek to reestablish the practice of some early Apostolic Christians who kept the Sabbath according to normal Jewish practice. They usually believe that all humanity is obliged to keep the Ten Commandments, including the Sabbath, and that keeping all the commandments is a moral responsibility that honors, and shows love towards God as creator, sustainer, and redeemer. Christian seventh-day Sabbatarians, arising from Adventist groups in the Millerite tradition, hold beliefs similar to that tradition that the change of the Sabbath was part of a Great Apostasy in the Christian faith. Some of these, most notably the Seventh-day Adventist Church, have traditionally held that the apostate church formed when Bishop of Rome began to dominate the west and brought heathen corruption and allowed pagan idol worship and beliefs to come in, and formed the Roman Catholic Church, which teaches other traditions over Scripture, and to rest from their work on Sunday, instead of Sabbath, which is not in keeping with Scripture.
The Sabbath is one of the defining characteristics of seventh-day denominations, including Seventh Day Baptists, Seventh-day Adventists, the Seventh-Day Evangelist Church, the Church of God (7th Day) headquartered in Salem, West Virginia, the Church of God (Seventh Day) conferences, True Jesus Church, and the United Church of God, among many others
The Sabbath was first described in the biblical account of the seventh day of creation. Observation and remembrance of the Sabbath is one of the Ten Commandments (the fourth in the Eastern Orthodox and most Protestant traditions, the third in Roman Catholic and Lutheran traditions). Most people who observe first-day or seventh-day Sabbath regard it as having been instituted as a perpetual covenant: “Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, to observe the Sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant.” (Exodus 31:13-17) (see also Exodus 23:12, Deuteronomy 5:13-14)) This rule also applies to strangers within their gates, a sign in respect for the day during which God rested after having completed creation in six days (Genesis 2:2-3, Exodus 20:8-11).WooCommerce
History – The Early church:
Dr. Samuele Bacchiocchi, in his historical work From Sabbath to Sunday, documented the slow change from the Saturday Sabbath to Sunday in the early Christian church due to social, pagan influence, and also the decline of standards for the day. Seventh-day Adventists point out the role played by either the Pope, or by Roman Emperor Constantine I in the transition from Sabbath to Sunday, with Constantine’s law declaring Sunday as a day of rest for those not involved in farming work.
According to R. J. Bauckham, the post-apostolic church contained diverse practices regarding the Sabbath. Early Christian observance of both spiritual seventh-day Sabbath and Lord’s Day assembly is evidenced in Ignatius‘s letter to the Magnesians ca. The Pseudo-Ignatian additions amplified this point by combining weekly observance of spiritual seventh-day Sabbath with the Lord’s assembly. If Pseudo-Ignatius dates as early as 140, its admonition must be considered important evidence on 2nd-century Sabbath and Lord’s Day observance. According to classical sources, widespread seventh-day Sabbath rest by gentile Christians was also the prevailing mode in the 3rd and 4th centuries.
All judges and city people and the craftsmen shall rest upon the venerable day of the sun. Country people, however, may freely attend to the cultivation of the fields, because it frequently happens that no other days are better adapted for planting the grain in the furrows or the vines in trenches. So that the advantage given by heavenly providence may not for the occasion of a short time perish.
Ellen G. White states that ecumenical councils generally each pressed the Sabbath down slightly lower and exalted Sunday correspondingly, and that the bishops eventually urged Constantine to syncretize the worship day to promote the nominal acceptance of Christianity by pagans. But “while many God-fearing Christians were gradually led to regard Sunday as possessing a degree of sacredness, they still held [seventh-day] Sabbath.” Bauckham also states some church authorities continued to oppose this as a judaizing tendency.
In the 4th century, Socrates Scholasticus (Church History, Book V) stated:
For although almost all 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. The Egyptians in the neighborhood of Alexandria, and the inhabitants of Thebaïs, hold their religious assemblies on the Sabbath, but do not participate of the mysteries in the manner usual among Christians in general: for after having eaten and satisfied themselves with food of all kinds, in the evening making their offerings they partake of the mysteries.
In the 5th century, Sozomen (Ecclesiastical History, Book VII), referencing Socrates Scholasticus, added to his description:
Assemblies are not held in all churches on the same time or manner. 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. There are several cities and villages in Egypt where, contrary to the usage established elsewhere, the people meet together on Sabbath evenings, and, although they have dined previously, partake of the mysteries.
The “Sabbath in Africa Study Group” (SIA), founded by Charles E. Bradford in 1991, holds that the sabbath has existed in Africa since the beginning of recorded history. Taddesse Tamrat has argued that this practice predates Saint Ewostatewos‘s advocacy of observing both Saturday and Sunday as days of Sabbath, which led to his eventual exile from Ethiopia around 1337. Emperor Zara Yaqob convened a synod at Tegulet in 1450 to discuss the Sabbath question.
In Bohemia, as much as one quarter of the population kept seventh-day the Sabbath in 1310. This practice continued until at least the 16th century, when Erasmus wrote about the practice.
The Unitarian Church condemned Sabbatarianism as innovation (forbidden by the Transylvanian law on religious toleration) in 1618. The last Sabbatarian congregation in Transylvania disappeared in the 19th century and the remaining Sabbatarians, who were known as “Somrei Sabat” (the Hungarian transliteration of the Hebrew words for “Sabbath observers”) joined the existing Jewish communities, into which they were eventually absorbed. Sabbatarianism also expanded into Russia, where its adherents were called Subbotniks, and, from there, the movement expanded into other countries. Some of the Russian Subbotniks maintained a Christian identity doctrinally, while others formally converted to Judaism and assimilated within the Jewish communities of Russia. Some of the latter, however, who had become Jewish, although they and their descendants practiced Judaism and had not practiced Christianity for nearly two centuries, still retained a distinct identity as ethnic Russian converts to Judaism until later.
A small number of the anti-Trinitarian Socinian churches of Eastern Europe and the Netherlands adopted the seventh day as the day of worship and rest.
Sects such as the Waldenses, Albigenses, and Leonists appear to have retained sabbath observance in Europe during the Middle Ages. A report of an inquisition, before which were brought some Waldenses of Moravia in the middle of the 15th century, declares that among the Waldenses “not a few indeed celebrate the Sabbath with the Jews.” The Taiping Rebellion kept the Sabbath in China. The Goa Inquisition attacked Sabbatarian Saint Thomas Christians.
Seventh-day Sabbatarianism was revived in 17th-century England. Early advocates included the Elizabethan Seventh-Day Men, the Traskites (after John Traske, 1586–1636), and Thomas Brabourne. The majority of seventh-day Sabbatarians were part of the Seventh Day Baptist church and experienced harsh opposition from Anglican authorities and Puritans. The first Seventh Day Baptist church in the United States was established in Rhode Island in 1671.
Eschatology: See also: Seventh-day Adventist eschatology
The pioneers of the church have traditionally taught that the seventh-day Sabbath will be a test, leading to the sealing of God’s people during the end times, though there is little consensus about how this will play out. The church has traditionally taught that there will be an international Sunday law enforced by a coalition of religious and secular authorities, and that all who do not observe it will be persecuted, imprisoned or martyred. This is taken from the church’s interpretation, following Ellen G. White, of Daniel 7:25, Revelation 13:15, Revelation 7, Ezekiel 20:12-20, and Exodus 31:13. Where the subject of persecution appeared in prophecy, it was thought to be about the Sabbath. Some early Adventists were jailed for working on Sunday, in violation of various local blue laws that legislated Sunday as a day of rest. It was expected that a universal Sunday law would soon be enforced, as a sign of the end times.
Seventh-day Sabbatarianism was a key feature of the former Worldwide Church of God, founded by Herbert W. Armstrong, and its various descendant movements. Armstrong, who began the Radio Church of God, was in 1931 ordained by the Oregon Conference of the Church of God (Seventh Day), an Adventist group, and began serving a congregation in Eugene, Oregon. The broadcast was essentially a condensed church service on the air, with hymn singing featured along with Armstrong’s message, and was the launching point for what would become the Worldwide Church of God.
The True Jesus Church supports the seventh-day Sabbath, and has approximately 2 million believers worldwide. Initial founder Ling-Sheng Zhang accepted the sabbath after studying Seventh-day Adventist theology, and co-founder Paul Wei was originally a Seventh-day Adventist. An American missionary named Berntsen, who was from a Sabbath-keeping Church of God, was also influential upon the founders.
Other Sabbatarian churches include:
- Seventh-day Remnant home-churches
- Church of God (7th Day), headquartered in Salem, West Virginia.
- Church of God (Seventh Day)
- Logos Apostolic Church of God, in the UK, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, and Sudan.
- Sabbath Rest Advent Church
- House of Yahweh 7th Day, headquartered in Clyde, Texas.
- Assembly of Yahweh 7th Day, formed in Holt, Michigan.
- Assemblies of Yahweh, headquartered in Bethel, Pennsylvania
- This article is the result of a google search: What Christian denominations celebrate the Sabbath on Saturday?
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