Sabbath Keeping In the Third Century
By Kelly McDonald, Jr.
There is an ancient document called the “Constitutions of the Holy Apostles.” The first several books were written in the late 200s AD (Schaff, Phillip, History of the Christian Church, Vol. 2, p. 185). While the work is certainly not authored by the Apostles, it certainly can give us some insight into the late third century church. The writings from this time period portray the Sabbath in a positive light as a day of rest. In book 2, Section 4, Article 36, we learn:
THE RECITAL OF THE TEN COMMANDMENTS, AND AFTER WHAT MANNER THEY DO HERE PRESCRIBE TO US.
“xxxvi. Have before thine eyes the fear of God, and always remember the ten commandments of God, — to love the one and only Lord God with all thy strength ; to give no heed to idols, or any other beings, as being lifeless gods, or irrational beings or daemons. Consider the manifold workmanship of God, which received its beginning through Christ. Thou shalt observe the Sabbath, on account of Him who ceased from His work of creation, but ceased not from His work of providence; it is a rest for meditation of the law, not for idleness of the hands…”
(excerpt taken from Roberts and Donaldson, ed. “The Ante-Nicene Fathers: Translations of the Writings of the Fathers down to AD 325 AD”. Vol VII. New York: 1890. page 413)
Over 200 years after Jesus was on earth, there were Christians still honoring the Sabbath. They still considered the law a very important part of their daily lives. This is a reminder that there have been Christians honoring the Sabbath from Jesus until today that were not affiliated with either Catholic or Protestant churches.
Kelly McDonald is the BSA President.