2nd Century Papyri Defending the Sabbath
By Kelly McDonald, Jr.
The New Testament is rife with examples of Sabbath keeping with both Jews and Gentiles (see Acts 17:1-4, 18:1-4 for two). Some believers will say that right after the early Apostles died Christians just suddenly changed the Sabbath. There is not any evidence of this “sudden change”, but we find the majority of Christians still honoring the Sabbath into the 400s AD and a little later.
In the 1800s, there was a tremendous amount of archaeological work that supplemented and confirmed what the Bible already told us. Among these findings were certain papyri documents discussing beliefs of the early church. In Egypt, the Oxyrhynchus Papyrus (c. late 100s or 200s AD) displays information about the Sabbath:
“Jesus saith, Except ye fast to the world, ye shall in no wise find the Kingdom of God; and except ye make the sabbath a real sabbath, ye shall not see the Father” (Grenfell, Bernard P. and Hunt, Arthur S. The Oxyrhynchus Papyrus. Oxford University Press, London: 1898. Part 1, p. 3. Logion 2, verso 4-11)
This papyri seems to be a sermon elaborating on the words of Jesus and possibly referring to a part of his teachings that we presently do not have. Remember, Jesus did so many things that the whole world could not hold the books describing them. One of Jesus’ central teachings is denying ourselves and rejecting the ways of this world (Matthew 16:24-26, Mark 8:36). He also said that He is Lord of the Sabbath (Matthew 12:8). He taught us how to correctly honor the Sabbath.
This papyrus only confirms what we already know to be absolute truth and that the Sabbath was taught beyond the time of the early Apostles.
Kelly McDonald, Jr. – BSA President
You can follow Kelly on his website: www.kellymcdonaldjr.com