When confronted with the Scriptural Truth that the observance of Sunday as a Sabbath stands only on the traditions of men, and not upon the word of God, the Sunday defender will often attempt to prove that the Observance of Sunday as a Sabbath has been practiced since the days of the Apostles. They will then present a list of writers who support Sunday keeping.

The List will then mention Barnabas {90AD}, the Apostolic Constitution or Didache {90 AD}, Pliny (104 AD) and Ignatius who wrote in about 105 AD, and Justin Martyr who wrote in 150 AD. The supporter of Sunday then shall say, “See the observance of Sunday is traced to Apostolic times!

What do we say to such? I says, Let’s for a moment investigate these so called ‘early church fathers’, and their supposed statements.

Barnabas (90 AD)

It is common KNOWLEDGE that the letter of “Barnabas” is spurious. Written in the Mid-Second Century if not some later, by an Apostate. Most learned historians admit that Barnabas is but a fraud. Included in this list would be Mosheim, Neander, Prof. Stuart, and Dr. Killen of Ecclesiastical history, of the Presbyterian Church of Ireland.

The Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge, speaking of the Barnabas of the New Testament:

"He could not be the author of a work so full of forced allegories, extravagant and unwarrantable explications of Scripture, together with stories concerning beasts, and such like conceits, as make up the first part of this epistle."

Eusebius, the earliest of church historians, places this epistle in the catalogue of spurious books. Thus he says:

"Among the spurious must be numbered both the books called, `The Acts of Paul,' and that called, `Pastor,' and `The Revelation of Peter.' Besides these the books called `The Epistle of Barnabas,' and what are called, `The Institutions of the Apostles.'"

The Didache (90 AD).

The Apostolic Constitution is 'spurious', it was not written by the Apostles, but were formed late in the Second Century. Though they are spurious they are useful to some extent.

As Mosheim says of them: "The matter of this work is unquestionably ancient; since the manners and discipline of which it exhibits a view are those which prevailed amongst the Christians of the second and third centuries, especially those resident in Greece and the oriental regions." – Historical Commentaries, cent. 1. sect. 51

During the late third and the fourth centuries, they were generally believed to be of Apostolic origin, and do therefore furnish important historical testimony to the practice and belief of the church at that time. Though they do recognize that Christians were attending service on Sunday at the time of their writing, they also freely admit and enforce the observance of the Seventh Day Sabbath. Here are a few quotes from the Didache about the   Sabbath.

"Consider the manifold workmanship of God, which received its beginning through Christ. Thou shalt observe the Sabbath, on account of Him who ceased from his work of creation, but ceased not from his work of providence: it is a rest for meditation of the law, not for idleness of the hands."

This is sound Sabbatarian doctrine.

You will notice as you read the Constitutions, that they do promote Sunday worship along with the Sabbath, but you must ALSO confess that there is NO authority behind their Sunday Sacredness. They quote Genesis and the 10 Commandments, and the words of CHRIST to support the Sabbath, but they QUOTE NO ONE, to prove Sunday sacredness. Wouldn’t you THINK if there was some sort of Apostolic Authority behind the observance of Sunday, that one of these writers would reference it? Of course they would, but they do not, because there is no Divine Authority behind the observance of Sunday.


The next document that claims our attention is the letter of Pliny, the Roman governor of Bythinia, to the emperor Trajan. It was written about A.D. 104. Let’s read the quote and see if there is any reference to Sunday.

"They affirmed that the whole of their guilt or error was, that they met on a certain stated day, before it was light, and addressed themselves in a form of prayer to Christ, as to some god, binding themselves by a solemn oath, not for the purposes of any wicked design, but never to commit any fraud, theft, or adultery; never to falsify their word, nor deny a trust when they should be called upon to deliver it up; after which it was their custom to separate, and then re-assemble to eat in common a harmless meal."

Here Pliny tells us that Christians met on a ‘certain day’, but that day he never reveals. But in their vain attempt to prove the early origin of Sunday Observance, the Sunday defenders grasp for straws, and build up mountains out of nothing. What day was he then referring? No doubt it is the Sabbath, for the Churches to which he referred kept Sabbath for centuries.

And now of Ignatius (105AD) who is said to have written:

"No longer observing the Sabbath, but living in the observance of the Lord's Day."

This quote comes from the epistle of Ignatius to the Magnesians. Of the many ‘epistles’ of Ignatius, only three are authentic, and this is not one of them. Many Church Historians recognize this Epistle as a fraud. But let’s take a moment to investigate the quote.

It originally reads:  Ei oun oi en palaiois pragmasin anastraphentes eis kainoteta elpidos elthon-meketi sabbatixontes, alla kata
kuriaken xoen xontes-(en e kai e xoe emon aneteilen oi autou, etc.)

Do you see the word emeran [day] after Kuriaken [Lord’s]?  No? And neither do I because it is simply not there. Many Sunday Keeping commentators add ‘day’, but they are adding what they wished was there, and not what is truly there. 

Let us now look at the passage simply as it stands. The defect of the sentence is the want of a substantive to which autou can refer. If we add the word emeran [day], the defect becomes even worse. But let’s take it as it reads, “Kuriaken xoen”, which is “Lord’s life”. This certainly goes nearer to supplying the substantive to autou, than adding emeran [day] to the text. And the whole meaning is as follows:

"If those who lived under the old dispensation have come to the newness of hope, no longer sabbatizing, but living according to our Lord's life (in which, as it were, our life has risen again through him). . . .

On this view the passages does not refer at all to the Lord's day since the material word emera [day] is purely conjectural.

The learned Morer, a clergyman of the church of England, confirms this statement. He renders Ignatius thus:

"If therefore they who were well versed in the works of ancient days came to newness of hope, not sabbatizing, but living according to the dominical life, &c. . . . The Medicean copy, the best and most like that of Eusebius, leaves no scruple, because xoen is expressed and determines the word dominical to the person of Christ, and not to the day of his resurrection:.

As we can see the passage is not teaching that Christians should observe another day, but that we should keep Sabbath a better way. Not with the burdens of Jewish traditions, but according to the Lord’s life, for he is our example. This is also proven out in the same Epistle, where the Pseudo Ignatius wrote:

: "Let us therefore no longer keep the Sabbath after the Jewish manner, and rejoice in days of idleness; 
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." Ignatius - To the Magnesians chapter 9)

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