Correcting a Commonly Shared Meme
By Kelly McDonald, Jr.
There is a specific meme (found above) that has been widely circulated by Sabbath keepers. The problem is it contains many historical inaccuracies. It is important to check our facts before sharing information to the public. Let’s look at what is true and what is not about the meme.
First of all, Constantine was not a pope. Constantine was Emperor over the Western Roman Empire in 321 AD.
Secondly, it is TRUE that Constantine received a law on March 7, 321 AD regarding the observance of the day of the sun (what we call Sunday). However, his decree had nothing to do with worship. The decree required resting to honor the sun; farmers were exempted from this so they could work the fields. Here is a copy of the original decree:
“All judges, city dwellers, skill workers, and the offices of all should honor the venerable day of the sun and rest. However, those placed in the country freely serve the fields of culture, because it often happens that no other better on corn grains or vineyard transplant recommended that lost an important opportunity to benefit from the heavenly provision granted” (Codex Justinius: 3.12.2).
In the Latin, the phrase translated as “venerable day of the sun” is venerabilis dies solis. Constantine’s decision was based upon honoring and esteeming the celestial body we call the sun.
Third, this decree did not ban the True Sabbath. It simply added Sunday as a day of rest for most people.
Fourth, there was not another Sunday law passed eleven years later. Constantine passed two Sunday laws in 321; no more Sunday laws were passed by Roman Emperors until 386 AD.
Fifth, there is no evidence that Constantine put Christians to death for honoring the Sabbath. No such command is found in any of his decrees. At the end of his life, he was baptized by an Arian believer. The Arians had Sabbath-keeping tendencies.
Lastly, the majority of Christians still honored the seventh-day Sabbath into the 400s/500s AD. Here are some primary sources: Chrysostom [eight homilies against the Jews, 1:5; Commentary on Galatians 1:7; Augustine, letters 36 and 82; Sozomen, Church History, 7:19; Socrates, Church History, 5:22, 6:8). Many articles on primary sources have been quoted and discussed on this blog; feel free to browse our history to find them. I have included links to some of these blogs below:
Thank you for reading and God bless!
Kelly McDonald, Jr.
You can follow Kelly on his blog: kellymcdonaldjr.com