Who Changed the Sabbath, Russell Earl Kelly, PHD
God changed it eight (8) times.
Seventh-day Adventists changed it eighteen (18) times.
The original article appeared in Proclamation Magazine, Spring 2017, Vol 18, Issue 1
Edited September 16, 2023
Adventism claims—indeed, Ellen White declared in her book The Great Controversy—that the pope of Rome changed the seventh-day Sabbath to Sunday. This claim, however, is a straw-man argument. In reality, both God and the Seventh-day Adventist Church have changed His Sabbath Law many times.
THE ORIGINAL CREATION SABBATH:
The original Sabbath of creation was not a 24-hour day of the week. After God had finished creating various kinds of life, He rested from His creation and only inter-species’ changes have since occurred. God is still resting from His original creation.
“Thus, the heavens and the earth were completed, and all their hosts. By the seventh day God completed His work which he had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made. This is the account of the heavens and earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made earth and heaven” (Genesis 2:1-3).
GOD CHANGED THE SABBATH EIGHT TIMES
1. Exodus 16:23-29. God Himself made the 1st change of His creation Sabbath. While the original blessed Sabbath was an indefinite time, without the “evening” and “morning” formula defining its boundaries, the Bible specifically states that the first six (6) days all had boundaries of “evening and morning” (Gen. 1:5-31). However, the inspired word does not state this formula for the seventh day—an omission which demands the question, “Why?”
There is an obvious break between Genesis 1:31 and 2:1. The word “day” in Genesis 2:2 refers to the seventh day, but in 2:4 the word “day” does not refer to a 24-hour period. Adventists claim that “days preceded by numbers are always 24-hour days.” Nowhere, however, is this principle confirmed as fact in Scripture. Adventists do not interpret the one-day Day of Atonement as a 24-hour day.
For thousands of years, there is no mention of a Sabbath-day rest between creation week and Exodus 16. Even if one had been instituted, it had been lost to history. In Exodus God taught national Israel which day of the week was the Sabbath and no corporate worship was involved. God changed the Sabbath from an indefinite time period to a 24-hour day of the week only for national Israel to refrain from work and remain in their family tents. No corporate worship was involved.
Ex 16:23 And he said unto them, This is that which the LORD hath said, To morrow is the rest of the holy sabbath unto the LORD: bake that which ye will bake to day, and seethe that ye will seethe; and that which remaineth over lay up for you to be kept until the morning.
Ex 1624 And they laid it up till the morning, as Moses bade: and it did not stink, neither was there any worm therein.
Ex 16:25 And Moses said, Eat that to day; for to day is a sabbath unto the LORD: to day ye shall not find it in the field.
Ex 16:26 Six days ye shall gather it; but on the seventh day, which is the sabbath, in it there shall be none.
Ex 16:27 And it came to pass, that there went out some of the people on the seventh day for to gather, and they found none.
Ex 16:28 And the LORD said unto Moses, How long refuse ye to keep my commandments and my laws?
Ex 16:29 See, for that the LORD hath given you the sabbath, therefore he giveth you on the sixth day the bread of two days; abide ye every man in his place, let no man go out of his place on the seventh day.
2. Exodus 20:8-10. God changed the Sabbath a 2nd time and made the 24-hour day a memorial of His creation rest only for national Israel.
At Mount Sinai, God changed the Sabbath from merely a family rest day in tents to a “holy rest” day for people and animals within Israel’s gates. He made the 24-hour day a memorial of His timeless creation rest.
“Exodus 20:8 Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.
Exodus 20:9 Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work:
Exodus 20:10 But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates:
Exodus 20:11 For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.”
3. Exodus 23:32/Deuteronomy 7:2. God changed the Sabbath a 3rd time when He commanded Israel not to share its covenant (including the Sabbath) with other nations. This removed any option they previously had to share it beyond their own gates.
God’s law to Israel prohibited the Hebrews from sharing their covenant with the Gentiles. Moreover, they were to show them no mercy in war. This prohibition was not removed until Jesus inaugurated the new covenant in Matthew 28:19-20.
Exodus 23:32: “You shall make no covenant with them or with their gods.”
Deuteronomy 7:2: And when the LORD your God delivers them before you and you defeat them, then you shall utterly destroy them. You shall make no covenant with them and show no favor to them.
4. Exodus 31:15. God changed the Sabbath a 4th time when He added the death penalty for Israelites who violated the Sabbath.
Exodus 31:15 establishes the judgment of death for Sabbath-breaking. This penalty is part of Sabbath law originating with the Ten Commandments.
“For six days work may be done, but on the seventh day there is a sabbath of complete rest, holy to the LORD; whoever does any work on the sabbath day shall surely be put to death” (Exodus 31:15).
5. Exodus 31:17. God changed the Sabbath a 5th time when He made the Sabbath a “sign” of national Israel’s unique covenant relationship. Others were excluded.
“It is a sign between Me and the sons of Israel forever; for in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, but on the seventh day He ceased from labor, and was refreshed.”
The Sabbath for Israel is very clear in Exodus 16:23; 20:2, 8-11; 31:13-17, and in Deuteronomy 5:1-3, 12-15. It cannot be an eternal moral principle unless it is discernible by all mankind through nature and conscience as demonstrated in Romans 2:14. In fact, the weekly seventh-day Sabbath was not observed by Gentiles and only came via special revelation to national Israel (see Rom. 1:18-20; 2:14-16; Jn. 1:9).
6. Leviticus 23; Numbers 28-29. God changed the sabbath a 6th time when He lessened the importance of the 7th day by creating more important Sabbaths requiring many more sacrifices. Common sense reveals that more important Sabbaths required more sacrifices. See especially the Day of Atonement requirements in Numbers 29:12-38.
Weekly: 2 additional lambs (Nm 28:9-10); new moon additional 2 bulls, 1 ram, 7 lambs, 1 goat (Num 28:11-15); Passover: additional 14 bulls, 7 rams, 49 lambs, 7 goats (Num 28:16-22); Feast of Weeks: see Num 28:26-31; Day of Atonement: see Num 29:1-11; Feast of Booths: additional 70 bulls, 15 rams, 105 lambs, 7 goats (Num 29:12-38).
7. Deuteronomy 5:12-15. God changed the Sabbath a 7th time when He made the Sabbath a memorial of rest from Egyptian slavery. This change of the Ten Commandments is ignored by almost all.
“You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the LORD your God brought you out of there by a mighty hand and by an outstretched arm; therefore, the LORD your God commanded you to observe the sabbath day” (Deut 5:12-15).
8. Romans 3:21-28. God Himself changed the Sabbath an 8th time when He ended the letter of the Law for Hebrews at Calvary.
Rom 3:21 But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets;
Rom 3:22 Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:
Rom 3:23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
Rom 3:24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:
Rom 3:25 Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;
Rom 3:26 To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.
Rom 3:27 Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith.
Rom 3:28 Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.
Every jot and title of the whole Law ended when Christ fulfilled the righteous requirements of the Law (Rom 3:21-27 compare Matt 5:17-20). Romans 10:4 says “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.” Galatians 3:19 says “the law was added because of transgressions until the seed should come.” Galatians 3:25 says “the law was our schoolmaster to bring us to Christ.” Galatians 3:26 says “after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.” In Ephesians 2:15 God reconciled Jews and Gentiles by changing the Law. “Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace.” Colossians 2:14 adds “Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross.” Matthew 27:57 records “The veil in the temple ripped from top to bottom.” Finally, Romans 8:2 says “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.”
SEVENTH-DAY ADVENTISTS CHANGED THE SABBATH EIGHTEEN TIMES
1. Exodus 23:32/Deuteronomy 7:2. Seventh-day Adventists change God’s law by teaching that the Sabbath should be observed by all nations. In Exodus 23:32 and Deuteronomy 7:2, God commanded Israel not to share its covenant with other nations. See “God changed the Sabbath -3.”
2. Exodus 31:15. Seventh-day Adventists change the Sabbath a 2nd time by refusing to obey God and put Sabbath-breakers to death in their own jurisdiction. Yet no attempt has ever been made to enforce this law in SDA communities.
“For six days work may be done, but on the seventh day there is a sabbath of complete rest, holy to the LORD; whoever does any work on the sabbath day shall surely be put to death” (Exodus 31:15).
3. Exodus 31:17. Seventh-day Adventists change the Sabbath a 3rd time by including themselves and other non-Israelites under God’s guidelines for Sabbath-keeping.
In Exodus 31:17, God clearly limited Sabbath-keeping to national Israel as a unique covenant sign only for Israel. Contrary to what Adventism teaches, the Sabbath is never called a “seal.” Ignoring Exodus 31:13-17, Seventh-day Adventists (not God) have changed the Sabbath from a unique cultic covenant sign only for national Israel into an eternal, moral principle required for all mankind. This change is serious; the Sabbath cannot be both a sign unique to Israel and also a requirement for all mankind. See “God changed the Sabbath-5.”
4. Leviticus 23; Numbers 19. Seventh-day Adventists change the Sabbath a 4th time when they ignore the far more important seasonal sabbaths which require far more animal sacrifices. See “God changed the Sabbath -6.)
5. Deuteronomy 5:12-16. Seventh-day Adventists change the Sabbath a 5th time when they fail to adopt God’s new reason for Sabbath rest and change of the Ten Commandments. It is now because of rest from Egyptian slavery.
This “minor” point lessens the emphasis of Exodus 20 on the Sabbath as a memorial of creation. See “God changed the Sabbath -7.”
6. Isaiah 66:23. Seventh-day Adventists change the Sabbath a 6th time with their interpretation of Isaiah 66:23.
“And it shall be from new moon to new moon and from sabbath to sabbath, all mankind will come to bow down before Me,” says the LORD (Isaiah 66:23).
By teaching that Isaiah 66:23 proves that the weekly Sabbath will be kept throughout eternity, Seventh-day Adventists err by not teaching the same about the new moon Sabbaths. Furthermore, they ignore the context of Isaiah 66 which is specifically addressing God’s fulfillment of His promises to national Israel during Messiah’s future literal reign on earth. Since SDAs teach that there will be no literal Messianic reign on earth, the text does not fit into their last-day-events scenario of Satan on a desolate planet.
Furthermore, the prepositions “from” and “to” in 66:23 define a range of time. For example, if we say we will be out of town from Saturday to next Saturday, we mean we will be gone for at least a week. “From new moon to new moon” and “from sabbath to sabbath” means “every day of the lunar month” and “every day of the week”. If (as Adventists insist) 66:23 proves that the weekly Sabbath will be observed throughout eternity, it logically must also prove that the monthly new moon Sabbaths will also be kept—but Adventists do not teach the continuation of the new moon feasts.
7. Matthew 5:17-20. Seventh-day Adventists change the Sabbath a 7th time with their interpretation of Matthew 5:17-19.
Adventists cite Matthew 5:17-19 to teach that the Ten Commandments are in force as a covenant for all mankind; therefore, they argue, so is the Sabbath day.
“Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven” (Mt 5:17-20).
Using Matthew 5:17-19 to support weekly Sabbath observance, however, changes the meaning of God’s word and is self-defeating. The texts literally teach that we are either under all of the 615 commandments of the Law or none of them.
In fact, verses 20-48 include examples from the whole law of commandments (verses 21-30), judgments (verses 31-42) and statutes (verses 43-47), not simply the Decalogue. In other words, the entire law stands or is fulfilled as a whole, and God determines when “all is accomplished.” Therefore, verses 17-19 cannot be used to argue the continuation of the Sabbath. Adventism admits that “the ceremonial law” ended at the cross, but they insist that this passage in Matthew refers specifically to the Ten Commandments, thus twisting the meaning of the words Jesus spoke.
8. Matthew 19:16-21. Seventh-day Adventists change the Sabbath an 8th time when they use Matthew 19:16-21 to prove that Sabbath-keeping is essential for salvation.
Matt 19:16 And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?
Matt 19:17 And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.
Matt 19:18 He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness,
Matt 19:19 Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
Matt 19:20 The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet?
This encounter between Jesus and the rich young ruler occurred before Calvary when Jews were under the full jurisdiction of the Mosaic Law. Although Jesus did not mention the Sabbath, obedience to the entire Mosaic Law, not merely to the Ten Commandments, is in view here. Jesus’ answer was to test whether of not the rich young ruler loved God. Proof that one was a true Hebrew was exhibited by obedience to all of the law and not merely the Sabbath.
Matt 19:21 When the rich young ruler said he kept all the laws, Jesus said unto him, “If thou wilt be perfect , go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.”
Jesus was saying to this young man that even careful law-keeping [including Sabbath-keeping] could not qualify him to enter into life. Jesus highlighted his lie. Unless he was willing to give up what he loved the most and follow Jesus, he really did not love God or man. This passage is not teaching that keeping the Sabbath is an implicit salvation requirement.
It is also important to note that Jesus commanded His Jewish disciples, before Calvary, to obey the Mosaic law in Matthew 5:23-24 and 8:4. However, He never commanded Gentiles whom He had healed to observe the Mosaic law or the Sabbath.
9. Matthew 22:36-40. Seventh-day Adventists change the Sabbath commandment a 9th time when they make the Ten Commandments more important than God’s other commandments.
Matt 22:36 Master, which is the great commandment in the law?
Matt 22:37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. (Deuteronomy 6:5)
Matt 22:38 This is the first and great commandment.
Matt 22:39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. (Lev 19:18)
Matt 22:40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
It is extremely important to note that Jesus did not quote the Ten Commandments here; instead, He quoted Leviticus 19:18 and Deuteronomy 6:5. When referring to “Law,” Jesus included both the ceremonial worship statutes and the civil judicial judgments.
Unlike Seventh-day Adventists, no Hebrew subdivided the Mosaic Law into three divisions (Ten Commandments, ceremonial worship ordinances and civil judicial judgments) for the purpose of discarding one or both of the non-Ten Commandment categories. The letter of the Law was an indivisible whole.
Ironically, the Adventists have made Saturday one of their busiest days of the week. In addition, their Sabbath rest which forbids “secular work” (medical work is allowed) forces non-Adventists to work harder to take up their slack.
10. Matthew 24:20. Seventh-day Adventists change the Sabbath law a 10th time with their interpretation of Matthew 24:20 by removing it from its prophetic biblical context.
“But pray that your flight will not be in the winter, or on a Sabbath.”
Adventists make end-time prophecy all about themselves being able to stand before God without a mediator. National Israel is not part of SDA eschatology.
However, this passage is a prophecy about the future destruction of Jerusalem. The Sabbath is prominent because last-day Hebrews will place themselves back under all of the 615 commandments of the Law. None will be able to flee easily because of their own imposed Sabbath restrictions.
Jesus was not making a statement about a Sabbath requirement that is universal. Rather, Jesus was specifically referring to the earthly city of Jerusalem and saying that, if “the abomination of desolation” (v. 15) came on Sabbath, the gates would be locked, and people would be unable to flee. Since Adventists teach that their own church is now the true spiritual Israel, the context of the Jerusalem temple in Matthew 24 is out of sinc with their theology.
11. Mark 2:27-28. Seventh-day Adventist change the Sabbath an 11th time when they interpret Mark 2:27-28 (Matthew 12:8) as applying to all mankind.
“The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. So, the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath” (Mk 2:27-28).
Ex 31:16 Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the sabbath, to observe the sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant.
Ex 31:17 It is a sign between me and the children of Israel for ever: for in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed.
God had previously given the Sabbath solely to national Israel as its special old covenant sign (Exodus 31:13-17; Ezekiel 20:12, 20) and commanded them not to share their covenant (Ex 23:32; Deut 7:2).
In context, the “man” of Mark 2:27-28 is the Hebrew man under the jurisdiction of the Mosaic Law. The seventh-day Sabbath was made for the Hebrew man who is under the Sabbath-keeping law (Ex 20:1-2; 31:17; Deut 5:1). Again, as discussed earlier, it is impossible for the Sabbath day to be, at the same time, “for all mankind” and also to be a unique sign of the God’s old covenant solely with national Israel as stated in Exodus 31:13-17.
12. Acts 13:42-44. Seventh-day Adventists change the Sabbath a 12th time when they cite Acts 13:42-44 to prove that Paul always observed the Sabbath.
Paul did not first enter Jewish synagogues because he carefully observed the Sabbath commandment for Hebrews. Instead, as a Jewish rabbi, Paul took advantage of the open pulpit afforded Jewish rabbis. In addition to Paul’s burden for his own, his decision was common sense.
“And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses” (Acts 13:39).
Adventists quote verses 42-44 to prove that Paul did not change the worship day when only Gentiles asked him to continue. Those were God-fearing Gentiles who had already accepted the Sabbath. Being rejected by the Jews, Paul turned to the Gentiles on other days after Acts 13:46.
Paul followed his pattern of going first to the Jews in each new city he entered. Consistently, after the Jews would throw him out of the synagogues, he went to the Gentiles, and he did not preach to them on Sabbaths exclusively. He preached every day of the week (Acts 16:5; 17:17; 19:9). It is amazing how conveniently Adventists forget to point out that all of their Sabbath-day illustrations involving Paul intended to validate Sabbath sacredness actually end with Paul’s going to the Gentiles and preaching to them daily. Clearly no sacred day is in view in any of these accounts.
13. Acts 15:19-20. Seventh-day Adventists change the Sabbath commandment a 13th time when they twist Acts 15 to include Sabbath-keeping.
In Acts 15:1-5 Paul was opposed by Christian Pharisees who wanted Gentile
converts to observe all the Mosaic Law, including circumcision and Sabbath-keeping.
In Acts 15:10 Peter rebuked the Christian-Pharisees in Jerusalem, “Now therefore why do you put God to the test by placing upon the neck of the disciples a yoke which neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear.”
Peter was referring to the entire law. Furthermore, Peter had witnessed how God saved Gentiles by faith alone who had not observed the Mosaic Law (Acts 10) and he realized that salvation by faith alone—not the law— also saved the Jews. He knew that the Pharisees’ insistence on circumcision and Sabbath-keeping had lost its value.
Acts 15:19 Wherefore my sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God:
Acts 15:20 But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood.
James, the leader of the church in Jerusalem, was still confused at this point in time. In an unwise compromise, he confirmed that the church in Jerusalem had no intention of expecting its Gentile converts to observe the Mosaic Law, including Sabbath-keeping (Acts 15:13-29). In fact, he said such a requirement would be “unsettling [or subverting] your souls” (v. 24). Finally, these “necessary things” laid upon Gentile Christians did not include Sabbath-keeping (Acts 15:20, 28). Seventh-day Adventists twist these texts out of context.
14. Romans 3:21-28. Seventh-day Adventists change the Sabbath a 14th time when they ignore Romans 3:21-28 and retain the Sabbath for all mankind. See “God changed the Sabbath -8.)
15. Romans 14:5. Seventh-day Adventists change the Sabbath a 15th time by twisting the very obvious Sabbath-day reference in Romans 14:5 into ceremonial sabbaths. Pauls’ disdain for holy days after Calvary in Galatians 4:10-11 and Colossians 2:16-17. In Galatians the sequence is clearly from weekly, to monthly, to seasonal to yearly; in Colossians the sequence is clearly from seasonal, to monthly to weekly Sabbaths.
“One person regards one day above another; another regards every day alike. Each person must be fully convinced in his own mind” (Rom 14:5).
Gal 4:10 Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years.
Gal 4:11 I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain.
Col 2:16 Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days:
Paul never taught that Sunday replaced the Saturday Sabbath. Instead, he taught that there were no longer any holy days; all days were equal opportunities to preach the gospel. In fact, in Galatians 4:10-11 he opposed any holy day.
Again, the Adventist’s challenge to “Sunday-keepers” to find the text where the Sabbath was changed to Sunday is a straw-man argument. Rather, it was fulfilled in Christ. He has taken the place of the shadows of sacred days (Col 2:16-17). Even though the Catholics claim to have changed the Sabbath, it was God who changed the seventh day from a holy day to merely one more day of which every one is alike. In honor of the resurrection of Christ, most Christians have freely chosen to worship on Sunday.
16. Revelation 9:4. Seventh-day Adventists changed the Sabbath a 16th time when the change the New Covenant seal of God from the Holy Spirit to the Sabbath Day.
Rev 9:4 And it was commanded them that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, neither any green thing, neither any tree; but only those men which have not the seal of God in their foreheads.
Eph 1:13 In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise.
Adventtists teach that the seal in Revelation 9:4 is the Sabbath. In fact, the Sabbath is never called a “seal” in the Bible. Yet Adventists ignore the two things which are called seals—circumcision and the Holy Spirit. Circumcision was the seal of the Abrahamic covenant (Gen. 17), and that seal was replaced for the church by the indwelling Holy Spirit (Eph. 1:13; 2 Cor. 1:22). The Bible clearly teaches that believers in the Lord Jesus and His finished work are sealed with the Holy Spirit who is a guarantee of believers’ security.
17. Seventh-day Adventists change the Sabbath a 17th time when they twist the word of God to make it appear that the entire early church worshiped on Saturday.
History affirms that only the Eastern Roman Empire worshiped on Saturday for several centuries. They did so, moreover, because they misunderstood the law and its lack of application to the church (Acts 21:20-21). However, God’s word affirms that Gentiles in the East were not required to worship on Saturday because the law was not required of Gentile believers (Acts 15:28; 21:25; Gal 4:10-11).
Adventists do not want others to know that Christians in the Western Roman Empire (before the Catholic Church existed) very early worshiped on Sunday. Most church historians except Adventists state this fact correctly. Although Catholics claim to have changed the Sabbath, they distort the truth that Constantine made the decision apart from pressure from the Western papacy. Still unbaptized, Constantine did not institute Sunday as a day off to obey the papacy; rather, he declared Sunday a legal holiday to bring unity to his empire.
Adventists have often invited discussion by asking, “Who changed the Sabbath?” Their answer to that question has historically been, “The pope.” We have seen, however, that Sabbath laws and applications have changed many times. God Himself expanded and explained Sabbath law throughout the history of Israel. The Lord Jesus revealed the truth of His superiority over the Sabbath, and the New Testament writers explained how Jesus Himself fulfilled the law—including the Sabbath. In the new covenant, the Holy Spirit replaces the law as the rule of godly living in the lives of believers (2 Cor. 3).
Finally, Adventists themselves have changed the biblical account of Sabbath. They have twisted the words of the New Testament to retain the Sabbath as a mandate for Christians. This misuse of Scripture, however, suppresses the truth and places adherents back under bondage to the law. In the words of Paul:
“You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace (Gal. 5:4).” †
Russell Kelly, has a Minor in Chinese Mandarin from Yale University (1963), a B.A. from Southern Adventist University (1972), and a PhD from Covington Theological Seminary (2000). A former Adventist pastor, he has written on many subjects including Adventism, tithing and the resurrection. His writings can be found at internet book stores and www.tithing-russkelly.com. You may email him at email@example.com.