COMPILED BY KEITH HUNT
CONYBEARE AND HOWSON:
"......From the Hebrew point of view, the disciples of
Christ would be regarded as a Jewish sect or synagogue.......But
they were by no means separated from the nation.
They attended the festivals; they worshipped in the temple. They
were a new and singular party in the nation, holding parculiar
opinions, and interpreting the Scriptures in a parculiar way.
This is the aspect under which the Church would first present
itself to the Jews.......The FESTIVALS observed by the Apostolic
Church were at first the same with those of the Jews; and the
observance of these was continued, especially by the Christians
of Jewish birth, for a considerable time. A higher and more
spiritual meaning, however, was attached to their celebration;
and particularly the Paschal feast commemoration of blessings
actually bestowed in the death and resurrection of Christ"
(THE LIFE AND EPISTLES OF ST.PAUL. Pages 55, 346).
PROFESSOR STANLEY in his sermon on St.Peter, page 92, says:
" The worship of the Temple and the Synagogue still went side by
side with the prayers, and the breaking of bread from house to
house.........The fulfilment of the ancient law was the aspect of
Christianity to which the attention of the Church was most
PHILIP SCHAFF says in his large work HISTORY OF THE APOSTOLIC
CHURCH. page 546, that it is with tolerable certainty that the
Jewish Christians (particularly those at Jerusalem) observed the
law with its weekly and yearly festivals. In the following
paragraphs of the same chapter, he is quite at a loss to explain
why the apostle Paul criticized the Galatians for observing
Jewish festivals (Schaff's understanding of Gal.4:10), while at
the same time observing them himself! Schaff acknowledges that
James kept the holy days, because of the respect shown to him by
the Jewish community.
But concerning Paul, Schaff could not understand why the
apostle allowed Romans to observe the holy days (Schaff's
interpretation of Rom. 14:5,6), but forbade the Galatians.
Schaff goes on to say on page 559, that Paul kept the feasts
and he kept them as a Christian!
PAUL COTTON in his book FROM SABBATH TO SUNDAY, says that the
influence of conservative Christianity was discernable upon the
Eastern or Asian churches for several centuries; that even after
Sunday worship was largely accepted, the Sabbath continued
to be observed - especially in the East. even as late as A.D.
425, the people of Constantinople and several other cities
assembled on the sabbath (pages 63-65). His conclusion is that
the church was by no means united with respect to Sunday worship,
nor did it make a radical departure from Sabbath observance. The
process, Cotten says, was a gradual one. It was Gentile
influence he says that brought about Sunday observance; and while
Christianity began in Judaism, it absorbed many points of
paganism and became a worldly religion (page 159).
NEANDER says that it was opposition to Judaism that led to the
establishment of Sunday, rather than the Sabbath, as the day of
worship - and while Christians in the East tolerated Sunday
worship in the churches, they continued to retain the Sabbath for
some time. In the West, however, the opposition to Judaism was
so strong that Saturday was selected as a fast day, in order to
make it less appealing to those who should care to observe the
Sabbath. According to Neander, the contrast between the two
groups of Christians - those who observed Saturday and those who
observed Sunday - was quite noticeable, and that some antagonism
was apparent in the matter of YEARLY festivals (Neander, Vol. 1
SCHAFF (HISTORY OF THE APOSTOLIC CHURCH, page 558) says the
Jewish Christians kept the Passover and all the annual FESTIVALS
appointed by God through
Moses and put them into Christian meaning. In the footnote,
Schaff says, " It is very remarkable that St.John makes Jewish
festivals, especially the Passover, so prominent in the public
life and ministry of Christ. He evidently considered them
significant types of the leading facts of the Gospel history."
On page 559, he further states that the second century
Paschal controversies prove that the early church kept the Jewish
festivals and that they derived their authority from the
GAMBLE AND GREEN in their work SEVENTH DAY BAPTISTS IN EUROPE
AND AMERICA Vol. 1, pages 21-35, say that the earliest historical
writings relating to the Britons attest to the founding of
Christian church in the British Isles, as early as the first
century - either by Paul or by any of his converts to
Christianity (made while in prison in Rome). There is no doubt
they say that Christianity was planted in England before the
appearance of the Catholic Augustine, A.D. 596. In Augustine's
biography we are told that he found the people of Britain engaged
in the most grievous and intolerable heresies, being given to
Judaizing and ignorant of the sacraments and festivals of the
church (Roman Catholic).
There is much history available about the British or Celtic
church before the arrival of the Roman Catholic religion in 596
A.D. The 7th day Sabbath was the weekly rest day, and they were
accused of being Quartodecimine observers - those who observed
the memorial of Christ's death on the 14th of Nisan, as they
stated they had been taught by the apostle John himself.
Further British history shows that it was not until A.D. 664
that Oswald, king of Northumberland, became convinced of the idea
of apostolic succession from Peter to the then Pope, and was
persuaded to accept Easter Sunday. So gradually over time,
Easter Sunday took foothold in Britain, and pushed out and away
the observance of the Lord's death on the 14th of Nisan or Abid.
As far as Ireland was concerned, Irish historians state that
during the reign of DERMOND (A.D. 528), Christianity was
flourishing in Ireland - and that they had received it from the a
ASIATICS. Scottish historians state that it was customary in
Ireland, as well as in Scotland, for their early churches to keep
Queen MARGARET, in attempting to harmonize the Scottish
church with the rest of Europe, stated that the majority of the
Scottish church did not reverence the "Lord's day" but held
Saturday to be the Sabbath. The Sabbath was observed in Scotland
as late as A.D. 1093. And in Wales, the Sabbath prevailed until
In spite of persecution and unpopularity, Sabbath keeping
continued in England. Sometimes, prominent Sabbath preachers
were imprisoned. Among those who advocated the seventh-day
Sabbath was WILLIAM WHISTON, who translated the works and
writings of the Jewish historian JOSEPHUS into English (Gamble
and Green, pages 108, 112).
This is only a FEW of the historical writings of men who
search the ancient records of history. There is indeed MUCH proof
from history and the New Testament itself that God's true elect
and chosen people continued to observe not only the SEVENTH day
Sabbath, but also the FESTIVALS of the Eternal as outlined in
Leviticus chapter 23.
Sometimes this light was hardly noticeable as God's people
took refuge from persecution in the hills and valleys and dales
of Europe and Britain. But the light NEVER WENT OUT. As Jesus
said, He would build His church and the gates of death would
never prevail against it.
Eventually scattered remnants of the true Church of Christ,
came across the ocean to settle in the New World of North
America. There they established the faith, sometimes looking as
though it would die, but those who were strong were courageous,
stood tall, searched the scriptures daily, were willing to be led
and taught by the Spirit into all truth. They would not deny the
name of God or His holy word. The truth of the correct weekly
Sabbath and yearly Festivals grew and grew. The Lord raised up
various ministers in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries who
proclaimed loud and strong the feasts of the Eternal.
If you know and practice the observance of God's festivals
then you my friend are partakers of this heritage.
Written April 1985