Which day is the Sabbath?

Which day is the Christian Sabbath? Since most churches observe Sunday as their day of rest and worship, many people assume that Sunday is the Sabbath. Is it?

Which day is the Sabbath?
The Sabbath is from sunset Friday to sunset Saturday.

Source: Photos.com

One of the Commandments states: "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work" (Exodus:20:8-10).

God commanded that the seventh day be observed as the Sabbath. A glance at almost any dictionary or encyclopedia will show you that Saturday is the seventh day of the week, while Sunday is the first day of the week. The seventh day according to God's calendar is—and always has been—the Sabbath day. Although man has modified calendars through the centuries, the seven-day weekly cycle has remained intact throughout history. The days of the week have always remained in their proper order, with Sunday as the first day of the week and Saturday as the seventh.

"The oracles of God"—His divine words and instructions recorded in the Holy Scriptures including the Commandments—were entrusted to the Jewish people (Romans:3:1-2), and they have preserved the knowledge of the seventh-day Sabbath faithfully since well before Christ's time to this day.

No biblical authorization to change the Sabbath to Sunday

How did Sunday become the primary day of rest and worship? Although the concept of rest has largely disappeared, most churches continue to hold their worship services on Sunday. You can search throughout the Bible, but you will find no authority to alter the day of worship.

James Cardinal Gibbons, Catholic educator and archbishop of Baltimore in the late 1800s and early 1900s, was blunt about the change: "You may read the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, and you will not find a single line authorizing the sanctification of Sunday. The Scriptures enforce the religious observance of Saturday, a day which we never sanctify. The Catholic Church correctly teaches that our Lord and His Apostles inculcated certain important duties of religion which are not recorded by the inspired writers...We must, therefore, conclude that the Scriptures alone cannot be a sufficient guide and rule of faith" ( The Faith of Our Fathers, 1917, p. 89).

Did you catch that? The writer admits that Sunday observance is nowhere authorized in the Bible and that the seventh day is the only day sanctified by the Scriptures. His justification for changing the day of rest and worship assumes that authority exists apart from the Bible to define the necessary truths and practices for salvation.

Sabbath change made after the New Testament was written

The change from Sabbath to Sunday was made long after the writing of the New Testament. No clear references to Sunday as a day of Christian worship are found until the writings of Barnabas and Justin, c. A.D. 135 and 150, respectively. Observance of Sunday as the primary day of worship appears to have solidified in the reign of Emperor Hadrian (A.D. 117-135), who harshly persecuted Jews throughout the Roman Empire. Hadrian specifically prohibited practices of Judaism, including observance of the seventh-day Sabbath.

These oppressive measures apparently influenced many early Christians in Rome to abandon the seventh day and turn to Sunday, historically observed by the Romans as a day of veneration of the sun (hence the name of the day). Within a few centuries Sabbath observance by Christians was virtually eliminated within the confines of the empire and replaced by Sunday.

Although the Protestant Reformation brought some doctrinal and administrative changes, observance of Sunday as a day of rest and worship continued from the Roman Catholic Church into subsequent Protestant denominations. Whereas the Catholic Church claimed authority to establish its own times of worship, Protestant churches generally justified Sunday observance on the grounds that the seventh-day Sabbath was replaced in the New Testament by worship on Sunday in honor of Christ's resurrection.

As confirmed by Cardinal Gibbons above, there is no biblical authority for changing the day of rest and worship from the seventh-day Sabbath to Sunday. As shown in our free booklet Sunset to Sunset: Gods Sabbath Rest , Jesus Christ, the apostles and Jewish and gentile members of the early Church alike continued to observe the Commandments, including the seventh-day Sabbath. This is the only day authorized in the Bible.

dana guzman

dana guzman's picture

with knowing that saturday is the true sabbath why is it that all churches execpt the seventh day adven choose to still worship on sunday? what does the bible say about this or does it.
and does it mean that now that i know this should i not worship on God's sabbath. is it a sin not too, and still worship on sunday.


Skip's picture

Hello Dana,

You asked some good questions!
Most people who read history give the Roman Catholic Church the credit (or at least the responsibility!) for changing the day of worship from Saturday (the Sabbath) to Sunday.

If you believe that there is a God & that God has communicated with us humans --- yes, it makes a difference which day we worship God.

If you are looking for help understanding how important it is, after reading our booklets on the Sabbath, there are several people (LIKE ME!) who would be able to answer any questions you have such as ----
Where is the closest Church that teaches ALL the Truth? We will tell you.



Timpj's picture

I am curious how the church addressed Samoa's dateline shift. It seems to have caused some confusion with the SDA's as to which day to keep the Sabbath. **Link removed to comply with comment policy**


joyful's picture

the sabbath day is a day placed in the commandment by God for man.. breaking the sabbath day is a sin for it is the breaking of the law of God. by observing it , you are showing love tawords you Creator, for it is written in the bible, " if you love Me, keep my commandments".(john 14:15)

Jeba Moses

Jeba Moses's picture

Thank you for challenging the Christian community to return to the Bible completely! If God said the seventh day was the Sabbath, and our Lord observed it when He was on this earth, that is what we must do as well.

Let us not follow human traditions and clever theological arguments that lead people away from God's holy day. Amen!!!


DeeDikay's picture

Can somebody explain to me this? Can it be Saturday? or Sabbath is the day of rest? Because looking at Leviticus 23.24 it says “Say to the Israelites: ‘On the first day of the seventh month you are to have a day of sabbath rest, a sacred assembly commemorated with trumpet blasts. 25 Do no regular work, but present a food offering to the Lord.’” Which means it can be any day between sunday to saturday. What evidence in the bible does it show that Saturday is the seventh day? What I have seen so far is that There are six days when you may work, but the seventh day is a day of sabbath rest, a day of sacred assembly. You are not to do any work; wherever you live, it is a sabbath to the Lord. I'm confused.

Steven Britt

Steven Britt's picture

Hi DeeDikay,

The scripture you quoted, Leviticus:23:24, is about an annual Holy Day called the Feast of Trumpets - it occurred only once a year, on the first day of the seventh month. It says that on that day to "have a day of sabbath rest," but this is in addition to the weekly Sabbath day of worship, which was always the seventh day of the week. I think the clearest way to put it is like this: the seventh day of every week was a sabbath (Leviticus:23:3), but there are a few other designated days out of the year that are also sabbaths. Because the weekly sabbath occurs every week, it has often come to be known simply as "THE Sabbath," and when we say this we specifically are referring to the seventh day of the week. In Leviticus 23, however, the term "sabbath" is simply indicating the manner in which the day in question is to be observed.

As far as biblical evidence that Saturday is the day of rest, you first should realize that the names that we have for the days of the weeks today are NOT the way that the days were referred to in ancient times. In fact, our day names are mostly taken from the names of pagan gods! But if you want proof that our Saturday today is indeed the seventh day of the week, it's not hard to verify, because the weekly Sabbath since the time of Christ has been faithfully kept by the Jews. Moreover, Catholic and Protestant churches alike acknowledge that the commanded day of worship in the bible, the seventh day, is Saturday! But they have chosen to believe that the church has the authority to change God's day of worship, for one reason or another. Check out the following article for more information on the history proving that Saturday is the seventh day of the week:


Malachi 3_16-18

Malachi 3_16-18's picture

Hi DeeDikay,

The confusion arises because God’s high holy days – the seven annual holy days – are at times also called “Sabbaths” (Lev:23:39, for example, describes the Feast of Tabernacles and Eighth Day as a period covering two annual “Sabbaths” which are not the weekly Sabbath - unless one of those annual days also happens to fall on a Saturday in a particular year). These days are like the weekly Sabbath, in that we always assemble together to worship God, and refrain from our regular work, during these times.

The particular holy day referred to here is the annual festival of Trumpets. This day is also mentioned in Numbers:29:1.

The weekly Sabbath is to be observed on the seventh day of the week, based on God’s commandment (Ex 20:8-11; 31:12-17; 17:22-30; Deut 5:12-15) and His resting on the seventh day of Creation week, and blessing/sanctifying it (Gen:2:2-3). To sanctify means to set apart as holy.

I hope this helps to answer your question.


rwp_47's picture

Hi DeeDikay ...

Don't be confused ... its actually not hard to understand.
The Sabbath you're referring to in Lev:23:24-25 is not the weekly Sabbath. Its what is called an annual Sabbath. Its called an annual Sabbath because it occurs only once a year. This particular Sabbath is called the Feast of Trumpets. And actually, this year, it will occur on 25 September 2014 (mostly on a Thursday). Annual Sabbaths can occur on almost any day of the week.
The seventh day Sabbath, which also is a festival, is something you will find instructions on in Lev:23:2-3. This is the weekly Sabbath ... and it occurs every week from Friday sunset to Saturday sunset.
Understand, the bible defines a day differently than does the general public. The bible doesn't begin a day at midnight and then end it the following midnight. For the bible a day begins at sunset and then ends the following sunset.
Notice Lev:23:4. Here it tells us that everything after verse 4 will be about festivals that occur "in their seasons". So each of these festivals will occur only once a year.
For instance, Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread (See Lev.23 beginning verse 5),occur in the Spring. The feast of Lev:23:24-25 (the one you were referring to) occurs in the Fall of the year.
Think of it this way. God has a plan of salvation. The most general description of this plan is the 7 day weekly cycle which ends with the Sabbath. This depicts a 7000 year plan (where the scale is one day is counted as 1000 years). The last thousand years is the millennium, which is pictured by the weekly Sabbath and is the 1000 year reign of Christ. The Sabbath day pictures the millennium.
Now the seasonal holy days, those that occur after verse 4, picture the major events (details) that occur during the 7000 year plan. The Passover, for instance, pictures Jesus coming as the Passover Lamb of God. The Feast you referred to in Lev:23:24-25 (the Feast of Trumpets) pictures Christ returning as the King of Kings to take over world government and to set up the Kingdom of God on the earth. In verse 24 we find the Feast of Tabernacles - this pictures the millennial rule of Christ. So it relates very closely with the seventh day Sabbath as they both picture the same thing but the Feast of Tabernacles provides greater detail.
Anyway DeeDikay - I'm out of space - I hope the above information helps.

linda effenberger

linda effenberger's picture

Hello rwp_47. I think all of God's festivals picture not only the future plan of God, but what God is doing during the time before the Millenium. The Sabbath (Lev:23:3) is a weekly reminder that we are to be a new creation in Jesus Christ and in the millenium we will rule with him and be with him and the Father of Heaven for all eternity in His family - His Temple in the city of Jerusalem. The Passover is a ceremony of dedication that we acknowledge our covenant agreement by accepting the grace we have in Jesus Christ as we eat of the Bread of Life and drink of the cup of sacrifice in service to God. We follow in Christ's footsteps and sacrifice also our life in service to God. The Days of Unleavened Bread is picturing our active involvement to daily eat of that bread so that we are producing the fruit of God and removing sin out of our lives. Pentecost gives us a visual remembrance of what the Bread of Life is all about. It is the very life of God that lives in us to produce Godly fruit in obedience to His Spirit. The Feast of Trumpets reminds us of the active involvement of God in world events when the Day of the Lord comes with the blowing of the 7 trumpets. The seventh trumpet is when God's wrath culminates in the visible coming of Jesus Christ on the earth to set up his Kingdom on earth and His rule. The Feast of Atonement shows that the ruler of this world (Satan) has been the cause of sin and evil - he has guilt placed on his head - and will be chained up during the Millenium and will be eventually thrown into the lake of fire to eternal death. Death and Hades will no longer exist. There will one day be no more death, no more tears and no more sorrow that was perpetrated by this being and his followers of evil. The Feast of Tabernacles pictures the joy and fellowship we will have in the Millenium and forever, but also what we have now in this life. We have joy in the relationship with our God and with His children. That is why it is so important that God's children begin now to love one another. We will spend eternity together in fellowship with God and His Family. The Feast of Tabernacles is a time where the "temples of God" come together to worship and praise God for His love to us and to show our love to Him by loving all God's children by sharing with them and feasting together in an atmosphere of peace and harmony. (continued, in the next block)


rwp_47's picture

Hi linda effenberger ...

Nice write-up. But I was wondering ... what scripture were you referring to when you spoke of the "temples of God"? I think that three term phrase, like the phrase "immortal soul", can't actually be found anywhere in the bible. Sort of like when Jesus said, "I will build my church" ... he didn't say, "I will build my churches". And since the church is "the" temple of God ... then that would imply one temple.

Here's some interesting nuggets to mull over that relate to this. In the book of Revelation Jesus reveals to us that actually God is the temple ... and clearly it means God alone as nothing but God is mentioned (Rev:21:22). But 1 Cor:3:16 (and a number of other scriptures as well) establishes that the church is the temple of God. And we know that the church is the body of Christ. Wouldn't you agree that there is only one Christ ... and that he has only one body? And wouldn't that one body be one undivided church, all members believing the same thing? Wouldn't that one church be the pillar and ground of "the" truth? I mean it would be hard to imagine there being many churches that can't agree or get together on anything ... and that these all would constitute the "pillars" and grounds of "different truths" while they all constitute Christ's single body. I mean ... how would that make sense? And where in the scriptures is such a thing as that indorsed?

linda effenberger

linda effenberger's picture

(from previous commentary, continued)

(continued from previous block - the feasts of God)

It could very well be that Feast of Tabernacles pictures the final wedding feast of the Bride of Christ. The Last Great Day, and/or the Eighth Day, is the beginning of the eighth thousandth year period of God’s Plan where all the rest will be judged in the White Throne Judgment and those who have not been found written in the book of life will be eternally snuffed out. This is the final cleansing (the last great day) where all evil and wickedness will be eternally removed from the earth in God’s wrath, pictured as a consuming fire. The Eighth Day can be construed as the beginning of the New Heaven and New Earth where God the Father will then be visible on earth, for His glory gives it light and the Lamb is its Lamp. “No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him” (Rev:22:3).


rwp_47's picture

Hi again Linda ...
I wonder what scripture you're thinking of when you refer to Tabernacles as picturing the wedding? I was thinking of Rev:20:11-12 and the great white throne judgment (the final judgment). And I was thinking that it would probably be a good idea that before Christ's marriage should take place knowing who will be saved and who won't be should be determined first. I mean it would be awful if part of the Bride of Christ should end up not being granted life and have to be destroyed in the lake of fire. So I would think that waiting until after the final judgment is made before convening the marriage would probably be a good idea.

And additionally Revelation 21 shows the new Jerusalem (which is Christ's bride) coming down from God out of heaven after the new earth is in place. And evidently it would appear that this is the new Jerusalem's first appearance on earth. So that would mean ... assuming a Tabernacles wedding ... that the marriage took place in heaven! Not only that, but that would mean if one assumes that the Church is the bride then the church spends the millennium in heaven ... not in Jerusalem! That would mean we go to heaven!

In consideration of these things it just strikes me that a Tabernacles wedding (or Tabernacles picturing the wedding) likely isn't correct. Anyway ... just a thought.

linda effenberger

linda effenberger's picture

Hello rwp-47. I just read your post. Thank you for your comments. I will begin by answering your question about “temples of God.”
1 Cor:3:16 …that you yourselves are God’s temple (using the word “yourselves” gives the individual touch of each person. Your translation of this verse says it clearer – “and the Spirit of God dwells in you”)
1 Cor:6:19 …do you not know that your body is a temple of God? Notice the “a”. Each body is a temple of God.
2 Co 6:16 For we are the temple of the living God. (This statement exemplifies oneness, collectively – one Temple, The Temple – God. As in Revelation:21:22.
Acts:17:24 …does not live in temples built by hands. (notice the plural form of temple is used here)
Notice John:14:23: “Jesus replied, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him and we will come to him and make our home with him.” This event begins when Christ lives in each individual person and God will continue be there for all eternity if we do not give up and if we overcome.
Where is God? God is in his holy temple (Hab:2:20). Where is his holy temple? It is where God lives (John:14:23).
It is the children of God who are the temple of God – each child of God houses the Spirit of God and this house is called the house of God - The Temple.

I will address your other comment later.

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