Q47. Sabbath on a Saturday or Sunday, does the choice influence Salvation?

The question of whether Christians should worship on Saturday or Sunday has been debated for centuries, influenced by various theological interpretations and traditions. This issue encompasses diverse movements, including some advocating for Sabbatarian legalism for Saturday worship and others supporting Sunday observance. Here, we will explore the biblical, historical, and theological perspectives on this matter, with comprehensive references to Scripture.

The disciples of Jesus both taught on the Sabbath (Saturday) and gathered on Sunday. The reasons and contexts for these activities are varied and can be understood from the following Bible references:

1. Old Testament Sabbath

The concept of the Sabbath originates in the Old Testament. The first mention of the Sabbath is found in Genesis 2:2-3: "And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation."

This commandment was later formalized in the Ten Commandments given to the Israelites on Mount Sinai. Exodus 20:8-11 states: "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy."

In Jewish tradition, the Sabbath was observed on the seventh day of the week (Saturday), and it was a day of rest and worship.

2. Teaching on the Sabbath (Saturday)

The early disciples, particularly Paul, often went to synagogues on the Sabbath to preach and teach about Jesus. This was a strategic choice, as the synagogues were places where Jews gathered, and Paul could reach out to them with the gospel.

  • Acts 13:14-15 - "But they went on from Perga and came to Antioch in Pisidia. And on the Sabbath day they went into the synagogue and sat down. After the reading from the Law and the Prophets, the rulers of the synagogue sent a message to them, saying, 'Brothers, if you have any word of encouragement for the people, say it.'"
  • Acts 13:42 - "As Paul and Barnabas were going out, the people kept begging that these things might be spoken to them the next Sabbath."
  • Acts 13:44 - "The next Sabbath nearly the whole city assembled to hear the word of the Lord."
  • Acts 16:13 - "And on the Sabbath day we went outside the gate to a riverside, where we were supposing that there would be a place of prayer; and we sat down and began speaking to the women who had assembled."
  • Acts 17:2 - "And Paul went in, as was his custom, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures."
  • Acts 18:4 - "And he reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and tried to persuade Jews and Greeks."

The gatherings in the synagogues were not for worship but for teaching and debating. Acts 13:42 and 45 highlight this: "And when the Jews were gone out of the synagogue, the Gentiles besought that these words might be preached to them the next sabbath. But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy, and spake against those things which were spoken by Paul, contradicting and blaspheming."

The purpose of these synagogue visits was to persuade the Jews that Jesus was the Messiah, and the gatherings often resulted in debate and opposition from the Jews who did not believe.

3. Gathering on Sunday

Early Christians began to gather on the first day of the week to commemorate the resurrection of Jesus.

  • Acts 20:7 - "On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul began talking to them, intending to leave the next day, and he prolonged his message until midnight."
  • 1 Corinthians 16:2 - "On the first day of every week, each of you is to put something aside and store it up, as he may prosper, so that there will be no collecting when I come."

The practice of meeting on Sundays can be linked to the resurrection of Jesus in the following verses:

  • Matthew 28:1 - "Now after the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to look at the grave."
  • Mark 16:2 - "Very early on the first day of the week, they came to the tomb when the sun had risen."
  • Luke 24:1 - "But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they came to the tomb, bringing the spices which they had prepared."
  • John 20:1 - "Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came early to the tomb, while it was still dark, and saw the stone already taken away from the tomb."

This event is central to Christian theology, symbolizing victory over sin and death.

4. New Testament Rest

In the New Testament, the concept of the Sabbath undergoes transformation. Nine of the Ten Commandments are reiterated, but the command to keep the Sabbath holy is not explicitly restated.

Hebrews explains that our Sabbath rest is found in Jesus, not in a specific day. Hebrews 4:9-11 provides a clear reference to this concept: "So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God's rest has also rested from his works as God did from his. Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience."

Colossians 2:16-17 addresses the issue of religious observance: "Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ."

Romans 14:4-5 similarly teaches: "Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand. One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind."

This underscores the personal freedom and conscience in worship.

5. Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath

Jesus asserts His lordship over the Sabbath in Mark 2:23-28: "One Sabbath he was going through the grainfields, and as they made their way, his disciples began to pluck heads of grain. And the Pharisees were saying to Him, 'Look, why are they doing what is not lawful on the Sabbath?' And He said to them, 'Have you never read what David did, when he was in need and was hungry, he and those who were with him: how he entered the house of God, in the time of Abiathar the high priest, and ate the bread of the Presence, which it is not lawful for any but the priests to eat, and also gave it to those who were with him?' And He said to them, 'The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is lord even of the Sabbath.'"

Jesus emphasized that the Sabbath was instituted for the benefit of humanity and not as a burden. He also asserted His authority over the Sabbath, indicating His special status in relation to it.

6. Pagan and Non-biblical Influence for Transition

The transition from the Jewish Sabbath (Saturday) to Sunday observance in Christianity was influenced by various non-biblical factors, including political, cultural, and religious developments. One of the most significant influences was Constantine's Edict of Milan in 313 AD, which played a crucial role in the history of Christianity. The edict primarily focused on religious tolerance and ended the persecution of Christians, creating an environment where Christian practices, including Sunday observance, could flourish. Although the edict did not explicitly mandate Sunday as the day of rest, it marked a pivotal shift in Roman policy towards Christianity and allowed Christians to openly practice their faith. This change in the legal and social climate contributed to the growing significance of Sunday within Christian communities.

  • Constantine and Sunday Observance

Constantine's support for Christianity significantly impacted the observance of Sunday. In 321 AD, Constantine issued a civil decree making Sunday a day of rest from labour. The decree stated: "On the venerable day of the Sun let the magistrates and people residing in cities rest, and let all workshops be closed."

This decree did not explicitly link Sunday rest to Christian worship but rather to the "venerable day of the Sun," reflecting the syncretism of Constantine's time. This decree reinforced Sunday as a special day in the Roman Empire, further entrenching its importance among Christians who already associated Sunday with the resurrection of Jesus.

Following Constantine's reign, later Roman emperors and authorities issued various laws and decrees promoting Sunday observance. These decrees often encouraged rest from labour on Sunday, particularly in the context of Christian gatherings and worship. Constantine's role in establishing religious tolerance and the prominence of Christianity within the Roman Empire had a lasting impact on the observance of Sunday as a day of rest and worship. The shift from the traditional Jewish Sabbath (Saturday) to Sunday observance took time to develop and varied across different regions and periods, but Constantine's support for Christianity played a crucial part in the eventual establishment of Sunday as the Christian day of rest and worship.

  • Sun Worship and the Day of the Sun

Sun worship was a prevalent practice in various ancient cultures, including Roman, Greek, and Egyptian civilizations. The Sun was often associated with powerful deities and was a central figure in many religious practices:

  • Mithraism: A mystery religion centred around the god Mithras, who was associated with the Sun. Mithras was often depicted as the "Unconquered Sun" (Sol Invictus), and his followers celebrated his birth on December 25th, coinciding with the winter solstice.
  • Roman Religion: The Romans celebrated "Dies Solis" (Day of the Sun) in honour of the Sun god. This day was significant for sun worship and had cultural importance long before Christianity adopted Sunday for worship.
  • Egyptian Religion: The Egyptians worshipped Ra, the Sun god, who was considered the king of all gods and the ruler of the sky, earth, and underworld.

These pagan traditions of honouring the Sun on specific days influenced the early Christian practice of gathering on Sunday. The alignment of Sunday, the "venerable day of the Sun," with Christian worship of the resurrection created a seamless integration of existing cultural practices with new Christian traditions.

  • Sunday of Tammuz and Roman Catholic Influence

The Roman Catholic Church, in its efforts to spread Christianity, often incorporated elements of existing pagan traditions to make the new faith more acceptable to converts. This practice, known as syncretism, helped ease the transition from paganism to Christianity.

Sunday of Tammuz: Tammuz was a Mesopotamian deity associated with fertility, agriculture, and the cycle of seasons. Some early Christian practices may have coincided with the veneration of Tammuz, especially in regions where his worship was prevalent. The adoption of Sunday, a day already honoured in various pagan traditions, helped integrate Christian practices into these cultures.

  • The Council of Laodicea

The Council of Laodicea, held around 363-364 AD, issued several canons addressing Christian practices, including the observance of Sunday. Canon 29 stated: "Christians must not Judaize by resting on the Sabbath, but must work on that day, rather honouring the Lord's Day; and, if they can, resting then as Christians. But if any shall be found to be Judaizers, let them be anathema from Christ."

This canon discouraged the observance of the Jewish Sabbath (Saturday) and reinforced Sunday as the day for Christian worship. The Council's decisions reflect the broader effort to distinguish Christian practices from Jewish traditions and align them with the prevailing cultural and religious norms of the Roman Empire.

7. Theological Perspectives on Sunday Observance

Christian denominations differ in their interpretations of the transition to Sunday as the day of worship. Here are some perspectives:

  • Resurrection Day: Many Christians view Sunday as the "Lord's Day" in honour of Jesus' resurrection. They believe the Old Testament Sabbath was a shadow of the rest found in Christ, as stated in Colossians 2:16-17.
  • Apostolic Tradition: Some traditions emphasize that the practice of gathering on Sunday was established by the apostles following Christ's resurrection, viewing this as authoritative for the Church.
  • Fulfilment of the Law: Certain denominations interpret the change to Sunday as a fulfilment of the law, where rest in Christ supersedes the legalistic observance of the Old Testament Sabbath. Romans 10:4 states, "For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes."
  • Personal Choice and Freedom in Worship: Observance of the Sabbath or Sunday is a matter of personal choice, conscience, and local culture. Paul emphasizes in Romans 14:4-5 that we should not judge others based on the day they choose to worship.

8. Is There a Salvation Issue?

The choice of whether to observe the Sabbath on Sunday or Saturday is primarily a matter of theological interpretation and tradition. It is not typically considered a salvation issue within mainstream Christian theology. Salvation in Christianity is based on faith in Jesus Christ and acceptance of His atonement for sins, as emphasized in John 3:16-18: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.”

While the observance of the Sabbath is a significant aspect of religious practice, it does not determine one's salvation.

In conclusion, the choice of whether to observe the Sabbath on Sunday or Saturday in Christianity is rooted in theological and historical factors, leading to diverse views among Christian denominations. The Old Testament establishes Saturday as the day of rest, emphasizing its significance in Jewish tradition, while the New Testament reflects a transition to Sunday worship, especially in connection with the resurrection of Jesus. Theological perspectives range from viewing Sunday as the "Lord's Day" symbolizing Christ's resurrection to upholding apostolic tradition.

The early disciples taught and engaged in discussions on the Sabbath to reach out to Jews in the synagogues. However, they also gathered on Sundays, which became a special day of meeting and breaking bread in commemoration of Jesus' resurrection. The combination of these practices highlights the transitional nature of early Christian worship, moving from Jewish customs to the establishment of distinctively Christian traditions.

Despite these differences, the choice of Sabbath observance on Sunday or Saturday is not generally considered a matter of salvation in mainstream Christian theology. Salvation hinges on faith in Jesus Christ alone. As emphasized in John 3:16, Christians have the freedom to worship according to their conscience and cultural context without imposing their practices on others or being judged by others. Ultimately, our rest is found in Christ, not in a specific day. Jesus said: “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.”


  1. Genesis 2:2-3, Exodus 20:8-11, Acts 13:14-15, Acts 13:42, Acts 13:44,
    Acts 16:13, Acts 17:2, Acts 18:4, Acts 20:7, 1 Corinthians 16:2,
    Matthew 28:1, Mark 16:2, Luke 24:1, John 20:1, Hebrews 4:9-11,
    Colossians 2:16-17, Romans 14:4-5, Mark 2:23-28, John 3:16-18

External Sources:

  1. Constantine I - Christian Emperor, Edict of Milan, Conversion, Britannica.
  2. Constantine and the Christian Empire, by Charles Matson Odahl
  3. The Day of the Sun: The History of the Christian Sabbath, by Michael Ots
  4. Sabbath or Sunday, Which is It? - Jacob Prasch.

    YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fkLN_zlO-HY

  5. Jesus Our Sabbath Rest - Jacob Prasch.

    YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vfI_llcYCHU

Related Articles

More Questions to Research, or Comments on a Question

Thank you for showing interest in Unveiling The Truth Through 153 Questions.

Please complete the form with your question for us to research or comments on any existing question. * = Compulsory Fields

* Please note, your submission does not guarantee a reply from us or question into a next edition. This post you sent is for helping us to make the world a better place and hopefully win souls for Christ.

We will take any suggestion or critique serious and with a humble heart.  Blessings :-)

This form was created by ChronoForms 8