The Deception of the Gentiles

he shall intend to change time and law
Daniel 7:25

The Pressure to keep the Sabbath

Without a doubt, some Jews, who were not subject to Gentile masters, pressured the Gentiles to keep the rest of the Sabbath Day.

John described the mark of the beast, “on the small, and the great, and the rich and the poor, and the free men and slaves” (Revelation 13:16). Because there were some, like the Gentile slaves, who had no ability to keep the Sabbath.

The meetings of these Gentiles on the Sabbath day was described by Pliny, 

they were accustomed to meet on a fixed day before dawn and sing responsively a hymn to Christ as to a god, and to bind themselves by oath, not to do some crime, but not to commit fraud, theft, or adultery, not falsify their trust, nor to refuse to return a trust when called upon to do so. When this was over, it was their custom to depart and to assemble again to partake of food — but ordinary and innocent food.

Pliny’s letter to Trajan, 111 A.D. 

That fixed day can only have been the Sabbath Day, and their assembly again, can only have been to partake of the Lord’s Supper. The Church Histories of Socrates and Sozomen tell us that this was the universal custom on the Sabbath Day. The Lord’s supper was taken in the afternoon of the Sabbath, or at the end of the Sabbath.

In Pliny’s day, the custom of religious cults was to eat food offered to idols (see 1 Cor 10:14-30). This is likely the meaning of Pliny’s description of the food of the Christians as “ordinary and innocent food.”

Twisting the words of Paul

the untaught and unstable twist (Paul’s letters),
as they do all the scriptures
2 Peter 3:16

Jesus taught that the Sabbath was not made for religion, but for man. 

The true Christian religion was intended to be the worship of God in the Spirit, and not according to the elementary principles of this world, neither “in Jerusalem, nor on this mountain.” Therefore, the Apostles did not create any religious days.

The Apostle Paul warned the Gentiles not to return back to their old form of religion, “how is it that you turn back again to the weak and worthless elemental things . . . you observe days, seasons, months, and years, I am afraid for you lest I laboured for you in vain” (Galatians 4:10-11).

But it seems that some Gentiles tried to twist the words of Paul, to excuse themselves from keeping the Sabbath.

The so-called Epistle of Barnabas said, 

If therefore a man is able now to hallow the day which God hallowed, though he be pure in heart, we have gone utterly astray.

Barnabas 15:6

And Ignatius, in his Letter to the Magnesians warned us not to obtain our salvation by works,

no longer observing the Sabbath, but living in the Lord’s life. . . For were He to reward us according to our works, we should cease to be. Therefore, having become His disciples, let us learn to live according to the principles of Christianity.

Ignatius Letter to Magnesians 9, 10

Were they saying that it was no longer God’s will for man to rest on the Sabbath? 

As if to answer this ambiguity, the so-called Gospel of Thomas said,

If you do not observe the sabbath as a sabbath you will not see the Father.

Gospel of Thomas, 27

This strong warning made the point. Yes, the Sabbath was not a special day for worship but God commanded, and blessed it, as a day of rest. The Apostle John said that we show our love for God when we keep His commandments (1 John 5:2-3). And Jesus told us that only those who do the will of the Father will enter the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 7:21).

The Rejection of the Sabbath Day by Rome

In Rome, the opposition to the Sabbath was more severe. Justin Martyr said that we were like rocks, and air, not needing any rest.

Do you see that the elements are not idle, and keep no Sabbaths? Remain as you were born. 

Dialogue with Tryphos XXXIII 

Because of Justin Martyr, Rome rejected the rest of the Sabbath Day, and moved its communion to Sunday.

It also took its own view on the observance of religious days. In 193 AD, the Bishop of Rome excommunicated the Churches of Asia because they would not observe Easter Sunday. In this, “he exalted himself as high as the Captain of the Armies,” as high as Christ, “and the place of his sanctuary was cast to the ground” (Daniel 8:11).

Tertullian said that the Sabbath was Temporary

In An Answer to the Jews, Tertullian said that the Sabbath was temporary.

He said that no one kept the Sabbath before the commandment was given.

But then he conceded, “the Jews are sure to say, that ever since this precept was given through Moses, the observance has been binding.” 

In response, he gave examples of the Jews fighting wars on the Sabbath day, as proof that they did not always keep the Sabbath.

And, he concluded,

Whence it is manifest that the force of such precepts was temporary, and respected the necessity of present circumstances; and that it was not with a view to its observance in perpetuity that God formerly gave them such a law.

But who said that it was temporary?