John Chrysostom – 380s AD
by Kelly McDonald, Jr.
John Chrysostom was a Bishop for the Roman Church in the late 300s AD. He spent most of his time in the Eastern part of the Roman Empire. He was a an ardent enemy of any practices that appeared in any way to imitate Jewish people. In his writings, we learn that MOST Christians of His time actually honored and kept the Sabbath.
He wrote, “What is this disease? The festivals of the miserable and pitiful Jews are upon us….There are many in our ranks who say they think as we do. Yet some of these are going to watch the festivals and others will join the Jews in keeping their feasts and observing their fasts. I wish to drive this perverse custom from the church right now…” (Eight Homilies against the Jews, 1:5).
““There are many among us now, who fast on the same day as the Jews, and keep the Sabbaths in the same manner…And why do I speak of Jews seeing that many Gentile customs are observed by some among us; omens, auguries, presages, distinctions of days, attention to the circumstances of their children’s birth, and as soon as they are born, tablets with impious inscriptions are placed upon their unhappy heads, thereby teaching them from the first to lay aside virtuous endeavors, and drawing part of them at least under the false domination of fate” (Commentary on Galatians 1:7).
This statement from Chrysostom is fascinating. He chided Gentile Christians who honored the Sabbath (which he labels as Jewish). He claimed that there were “many among us” who practiced it. This part of his quote affirms the widespread practice of the Sabbath.
In the second part of his quote, he rebuked a separate group for honoring pagan Gentile customs. Why should we be surprised? In the early 380s, Theodosius tried to force subjects in the Roman Empire to adopt Roman Catholicism. This means those with pagan sentiments would go to church services at the appropriate time, but still retain pagan elements to satisfy their true desires.
The main religious sect in the Eastern Roman Empire at this time were Arians, and they were known for practicing the Sabbath and other commandments of God. We shall look at them in a future segment.
Kelly McDonald, Jr. – BSA President www.biblesabbath.org