Which Law?

Which Law?

By D.J. Wellington

“A lawyer inquired of Yahshua, Teacher, “which is the great commandment in the Law?” And He said to him, “You shall love YAHWEH your Elohim with all your heart and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets’” (Matthew 22:36-40).

These were not new words. They were straight from words previously spoke. “You shall love YAHWEH your Elohim with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might” Deuteronomy 6:5; and “…but you shall love your neighbor as yourself, I am YAHWEH,” Leviticus 19:18. But Yahshua added something to them; do you see it? It is a very, very important phrase that most ministers seem to bypass: “On these two commandments depend [hang] the whole law and the prophets! What does that mean?…”“

(this article is an excerpt from the Sept-Oct 2017edition of the Sabbath Sentinel)To read the rest of this article, which starts on page 8, click this link: https://biblesabbath.org/media/Sept-Oct_2017.pdf

Did the Ten Commandments Exist Before Mount Sinai?

Did the Ten Commandments Exist Before Mount Sinai?
By Kelly McDonald, Jr.

Many Christians believe that the Ten Commandments were solely given to the Israelites when God formed a covenant with them on Mount Sinai. However, all Ten Commandments can be found in the Bible before the covenant on Mount Sinai was formed. We have some examples below (this is not an all inclusive list). These verses either display that the commandments existed because God mentioned it or that people were aware of their existence.

No other gods before Him: Gen. 31:30-32, Gen. 35:2-4, Ex. 6:7, 10:7, 12:12

No graven images/idols (and by extension no other gods): Gen. 31:19, 31:34-35, 35:2-4

Do not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain (this literally means to bear or take up His name in vain): Gen. 4:26, 13:4, Ex. 3:15 (there were those who did not call on/take up His name in vain)

Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy: Genesis 2:1-3, 8:10-12, Ex. chapter 16

Honor your mother and father: Gen. 26:34-35, 35:21-22, 49:4-5

Do not commit murder: Gen. 4:8-10, 9:5-6, 27:41, 37:19-26, Ex. 1:16, 2:14

Do not commit adultery: Gen. 12:9-20, 19:1-38, 20:1-14, 39:1-12

Do not steal: Gen. 27:15, 30:33, 31:19,30, 44:8

Do not bear false witness (said another way, do not lie): Gen. 4:9-11, 12:9-20, 20:1-5, 27:1-29, 31:7,41, 37:31-35, 39:13-20

Do not covet: Genesis 3:6, Gen. 31:19

These verses make it abundantly clear that the Ten Commandments existed before Mount Sinai and the Old Covenant. Apparently God made these precepts clear to mankind. After all, the world was destroyed by the flood because of sin and violence that people carried out against their fellow humans.

Keep looking for more posts like this one!

God bless!

Kelly McDonald, Jr.
BSA President – www.biblesabbath.org

The Child of God Rescue Story

The Child of God Rescue Story

By Mardy Cobb

“In the summer of 2007 I received an email from somewhere in Kenya, asking for help. I thought that it was probably a scam. This email asked for help with two small congregations. It turns out they had been with a Church of God (COG) offshoot for only a short time when tribal conflicts led to a division. They said they were very young in the faith. It sounded sincere and I began a series of questions, calls, emails, follow-ups, and whatever 3rd party verifications I could find. It took a long time, but, about a year after contact, I had done all that could be done from the USA, and everything appeared sincere and legitimate.

I discussed this group’s request with my wife, with the congregation, and asked everyone to pray about it. Eventually, I came to believe that I had to visit this small group to determine the truth or falsehood of their status and frankly, I suspected it would be proven a fraud.

My purpose in going to Africa was to help with the Gospel and the small church. Shortly after my arrival in Kenya in 2008 I met Richard Mogendi, their leader, and was introduced to 27 orphans that were being cared for by the brethren in that church. Some of the children were orphans because of political strife and tribal fighting in the last election….”

(this article is an excerpt from the Nov-Dec 2018 edition of the Sabbath Sentinel)To read the rest of this article, which starts on page 11, click this link: https://biblesabbath.org/media/Nov_2018_web.pdf

Sabbath Meditation #32 – The Sabbath and Prophecy

Sabbath Meditation #32 – The Sabbath and Prophecy

By Kelly McDonald, Jr.

“Pray that your flight will not take place in winter or on the Sabbath.” (Matthew 24:20)

In general, prophecy has to do with promises God has made about future events. Some of the books of the Bible with a prophetic emphasis include Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, and Revelation. A survey of the book of Revelation, which is a culmination of many other prophecies, reveals significant repetitions of the number seven. In this book alone, 31 verses mention some subject with the number seven included. I have summarized some of these below:

– Seven Churches represented by seven stars and seven lampstands (Rev. 1:20).

– The Seven lamps which represents the seven-fold Spirit of God (Rev. 4:5).

– A book written sealed with seven seals (Rev. 5:1).

– The Lamb has seven eyes and seven horns with represent the seven-fold Spirit of God (Rev. 5:6).

– Seven angels with Seven Trumpets (Rev. 8:2).

– Seven thunders (Rev. 10:3-4).

– The dragon has seven heads with seven crowns (Rev. 12:3).

– A beast with seven heads (Rev. 13:1).

– Seven Angels with Seven golden bowls which represent Seven plagues (Rev. 15:6-7-8).

– A beast with seven heads which represents seven heads and seven kings (Rev. 17:3, 9-10).

Sevens can be found in other prophetic books as well. In Isaiah 11:15, we learn that the Euphrates will be broken up into seven streams. In Daniel chapter 9, there is a prophecy about the seventy weeks or seventy seven-year periods. The seventieth week is connected to events just before Christ’s return.

These prophetic sevens may have inspired some Christians, such as the Anabaptists in 16th century Germany, to literally obey the Sabbath (click here to learn more about this subject).

It would be difficult for us to review all the references to the number seven as it relates to end-time events and overlook any connection to the seventh-day Sabbath. The Sabbath is mentioned in Matthew 24:20 in a broader discussion about the last days before Christ’s return. It is implied in Rev. 14:12.

But what other implications might there be for the Sabbath in prophecy. Does the Sabbath help open our minds to deeper truths about prophecy? Does the Sabbath help us to connect these prophecies together? Meditate for a moment on how the Sabbath might apply to prophecy. How do you think it applies to prophecy?


Kelly McDonald, Jr.BSA President – www.biblesabbath.org

The Mark of the Faithful Remnant

The Mark of the Faithful Remnant

By Daniel Botkin

“There has been a significant movement among believers in the past several decades to rediscover and reclaim that which could be called the neglected elements of the Torah.

This movement is especially obvious among Messianic Jewish believers in Yeshua, but it is by no means limited to Jewish believers. Because so many non-Jewish believers are now involved in this movement, some people prefer to use terms like “the Messianic Faith” or “the Messianic Movement” rather than “Messianic Judaism” or “the Messianic Jewish Movement” -not to exclude Messianic Jews, but to more accurately describe a movement that now consists of more non-Jews than Jews. In recent years the term “Hebrew Roots Movement” has become popular.

Regardless of which terminology is used to describe this movement, it is an awakening and a phenomenon that is continuing to grow. Even Mainstream Christians are taking note of it and responding to it. Much of the response is unfavorable, but at least Christians are taking note of it. Every sincere believer should prayerfully consider what is happening….”

(this article is an excerpt from the Jan-Feb 2019 edition of the Sabbath Sentinel)To read the rest of this article, which starts on page 16, click this link: https://biblesabbath.org/media/Jan_2019_webA.pdf

Sunday Laws in the Roman Empire (Part 2 of 2)

Sunday Laws in the Roman Empire (Part 2 of 2)

By Kelly McDonald, Jr.

Last week, we reviewed the first five Sunday laws proclaimed in the Roman Empire (CLICK HERE to read part 1 of this series). They were issued from 321 to as late as 373. Two in 321, one at an unknown date, and two more between 368-373. The last two were regional. There would not be another one (that we know of) until 386 AD.

From 386 to 425, eleven laws were enacted that governed some sort of Sunday observance (including the annual observance of Pascha on Sunday). The sudden increase in Sunday laws during this time reflects the continued unification of the Roman Empire and Roman Church. Before we can review these laws, there is some necessary background information for us to review.

Theodosius became Emperor in 379. He heard the religious perspectives of various Christian groups and sided with the Roman Church. He was determined to make the Empire uniform in its view of God. The next year, he issued a decree to force subjects of the Empire to become Roman Catholic. We have an excerpt of this law below:

“To the residents of Constantinople: It is our will that all the peoples whom the government of our clemency rules shall follow that religion which a pious belief from Peter to the present declares the holy Peter delivered to the Romans, and which it is evident the Pontiff Damascus and Peter, bishop of Alexandria, a man of apostolic sanctity, follow; that is, that according to the apostolic discipline and evangelical doctrine we believe in the deity of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit of equal majesty in a holy trinity. Those who follow this law we command shall be comprised under the name of Catholic Christians; but others, indeed, we require, as insane and raving, to bear the infamy of heretical teaching…” (CT: 16.1.2 [quoted from Ayers, pp 367-368]).

Notice that the issue of Sabbath and Sunday was never addressed in this law. As reviewed in the January-February 2020 issue of The Sabbath Sentinel, most Christians still kept the Sabbath at that time. The biggest issue which separated Roman Catholic Christians from others was the Trinity; this involved an ongoing argument at that time concerning the nature of God.

Keep in mind that people did not instantly comply with this decree. Laws in the ancient world took time to implement; it does not necessarily follow that people obeyed. Non-Trinitarian groups continued for many centuries inside and outside of the Roman Empire. Decrees such as these reflect Imperial views.

The laws of Theodosius’ reign, such as the one above, appear draconian. However, they were not always enforced. Sozomen, a fourth century Christian historian, said that Theodosius did not enforce the terrible punishments prescribed in his laws (Church history, 7.12). Instead, he wanted to intimidate people into changing their religious views so that there would be greater uniformity. Later in this same work, Sozomen mentioned that most Christians in his time kept the Sabbath (ibid, 7.19). As discussed in the May-June edition of The Sabbath Sentinel, Roman law protected Sabbath observance.

Theodosius completed the merger of the Roman Church and State which began years before under Constantine. This facilitated a series of Sunday laws with Christian meaning to be enacted during his reign; the first one dates to the year 386.

“The same Augustuses (Gratian, Valentinian, and Theodosius Augustuses) to Principius, Praetorian Prefect. On the Day of the Sun (Sunday), which our ancestors rightly called the Lord’s Day*, the prosecution of all litigation and actions shall entirely cease. No person shall demand payment of either a public or private debt. There shall be no cognizance of any contention, even before arbitrators, whether these arbitrators be demanded in court of voluntarily chosen. If any person should turn aside from the inspiration and ritual of holy religion, he shall be adjudged not only infamous but also sacrilegious” (CT: 11.7.13; Nov. 3, 386) (Pharr, p 300).

*The underlying Latin translated as “our ancestors rightly called the Lord’s Day” is quem dominicam rite dixere maiores (Haenel, 1071). By that time, dominicam had come to be known as ‘Lord’s Day’. Rite means a duty according to religious observance. Dixere means called or said and maiores means ancestors or forefathers. The use of the term maiores does not indicate length of time.

Notice that these Emperors attributed the usage of the term ‘Lord’s Day’ to their forefathers, not God or the Bible. It was common for Roman Catholic writers to do the same (see Eusebius, Exposition on Psalm 93 in Odom, p 292). This is the first Roman law where Sunday is called ‘The Lord’s Day’, and the first one to ascribe direct Christian meaning to Sunday. It reiterated some of the details from Constantine’s law on July 3, 321 (CT: 2.8.1 – CLICK HERE to read last week’s article).

This law was repeated as CT: 2.8.18 and 8.8.3 in the same month and year (Nov. 386); it was later repeated in the Code of Justinian (CJ: 3.12.6). Just three years later, another law will better demonstrate the one result of the Roman State/Church union.

“Emperors Valentinian, Theodosius, and Arcadius Augustuses to Albinus, Prefect of the City. We order all days to be court days. It shall be lawful for only those days to remain as holidays which throughout two months a very indulgent year has recognized as a respite from toil for the mitigation of summer heat and for the harvesting of the autumn crops. 1. We also set aside the kalends of January (January 1) as a customary rest day. 2. To the aforementioned days We add the natal days of the greatest cities, Rome (April 21) and Constantinople (May 11),* to which the law ought to defer, since it also was born of them.** 3. We count the same category the holy Paschal days (Latin: sacros quoque paschae dies), of which seven follow Easter; likewise the Days of the Sun*** which revolve upon themselves at regular intervals. 4. It is necessary for Our anniversaries also to be held in equal reverence, that is, both the day which brought forth the auspicious beginning of Our life and the day which produced the beginning of Our imperial power.  – August 7, 389 (CT: 2.8.19; Pharr, p 44; Latin: Haenel, p 210).

*This law provides us with an overview of the holidays allowed by the merger of Roman Church and Roman State. In it, we can see a mix of the older pagan holidays, such as the summer/autumn rest days, January 1, the founding of Rome and Constantinople, Sun-day, and the Imperial birthdays/anniversaries with newer Roman Catholic days, such as the Paschal days.

**The term ‘Easter’ or an equivalent term was not used at this time. The Latin word used in the sentence is Paschae, which means Passover. The Roman Catholic Church celebrated it on a Sunday. Sunday was not called the Lord’s Day, but dies solis.

A controversy that arose during this time was whether contests in the Circuses should be allowed on the birthdays of the Emperors, even if their birthdays occurred on Sunday. The Circus Maximus was dedicated to the sun; horse races often occurred there (See Tertullian, De Spectaculis, 7-8).

“The same Augustuses to Proculus, Perfect of the City. Contests in the circuses shall be prohibited on the festal Days of the Sun [Latin: Festis solis diebus], except on the birthdays of Our Clemency, in order that no concourse of people to the spectacles may divert men from the reverend mysteries of the Christian law*” – April 17, 392 (CT: 2.8.20; English: Pharr, p 44; Latin: Haenel, p 211).

*This decree contains a clear reference to Christian law (Latin: Christianae legis). During the reign of Theodosius, the term ‘Christian’ was defined as Roman Catholic (see CT: 16.1.2 above). The law allows us to see that the birthdays of the Imperial reign were considered more important than Sunday rest. Just seven years later, another law affirmed this ruling (CT: 2.8.23). However, just ten years later, the Imperial attitude towards this subject changed.

“Emperors Honorius and Theodosius (II) Augustuses to Jovius, Praetorian Prefect. On the Lord’s Day, which is commonly called the Day of the Sun, We permit absolutely no amusements to be produced, even if by chance as the ends of the years return upon themselves the day should be the anniversary of the day when the beginning of Our reign shone forth, or if it should be the day to which are assigned the solemn rites that are due to the birthday” – April 1, 409 (CT: 2.8.25; Pharr, p 45).

In this law, no amusements or spectacles were allowed to be produced on Sunday even if the anniversaries of the Emperors’ reigns fall on Sunday or their birthdays. This shows us that the concept of Sunday rest had even greater weight than it did years before.

Other Sunday laws were adopted which governed human behavior. In 425, the first Roman law was promulgated that labeled Sunday the first day of the week. It also commanded people to worship on certain days each year, including Sunday, the birthday of Christ, Epiphany, Roman Passover, and Pentecost (CT: 15.5.5). More rules governing Sunday observance were enacted in 469 (CJ: 3.12.9); this last Roman law imposed harsher penalties for violations of Sunday rest.

Conclusion about Sabbath and Sunday Laws
Sabbath laws in the Roman Empire protected the existing practice of Sabbath observance for the Jewish people (and by extension Christians). It was not imposed on other people. Furthermore, there was no need for a body of laws to define what keeping the Sabbath really meant – the Bible already provided this instruction.

Conversely, Sunday laws in the Roman Empire were imposed on everyone else. If anything, these laws refute the notion that Sunday observance/rest was an entrenched, established, and developed practice in the fourth century. If the greatest portion of Christians in the Roman world were already keeping ‘Sunday’, then why were rules for its observance constantly adjusted over a hundred-year period and subsequently imposed on others? Because it was not universally observed by Christians.

The whole concept of Sunday as a rest day for Christian gathering is not found in the New Testament. These Roman Sunday laws are proof that it took time to develop the idea of what it really meant to keep Sunday – was it a day of leisure, rest, celebration, or all the above? The Roman church developed this concept partly using Roman law (Catholic Encyclopedia: Canon Law). The Sabbath continued to be observed by most Christians in the East for centuries in the future.

To read more about this subject, download our free booklet Sabbath and Sunday Laws in the Roman Empire by clicking HERE

Kelly McDonald, Jr.

BSA President – www.biblesabbath.org

Sources Cited:

Catholic Encyclopedia. Article: Canon Law.

Codex Justinian. English. Blume, Fred. Ed. Bruce W. Frier. The Codex Justinian. Vol. 1. Cambridge University Press. 2016. pp 645-647.

Codex Theodosianus. English. Translated by Joseph Cullen Ayers. A Source Book For Ancient Church History. New York. Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1913.  pp 367-368.

Codex Theodosianus. English. Translated by Clyde Pharr. The Theodosian Code and Novels and the Sirmondian Constitutions. Princeton University, 1952. pp 44, 45, 209, 229-230, 300, 432, 433.

Codex Theodosianus. Latin. Edited by Gustavus Haenel. Novellae Constitutiones Imperatorum Theodosii II., Valentinianii III., Maximi, Severi, Anthemii. Ad XLII Librorum Manuscriptorum Et Priorum Editionum Fidem Recognovit Et Annotatione Critica Instuxit. Lipsiensis, 1841-1842. Vol 2: pp 210, 211. Vol 3: p 1071.

Odom, Robert L. Sabbath and Sunday in Early Christianity. Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association. 1977. p 292.

Sozomen. Church History, 7.12, 18-19. Translated by Chester D. Hartranft. Edited by Philip Schaff and Henry Wace. Nicene and Post Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church. Second series, Vol. 2. Buffalo, NY: The Christian Literature Co., 1890. p 383.

Sunday Laws in the Roman Empire (Part 1 of 2)

Sunday Laws in the Roman Empire (Part 1 of 2)

By Kelly McDonald, Jr.

As reviewed last month, the Roman Empire protected Sabbath observance for hundreds of years. This facilitated the spread of Christians who observed the Sabbath within the Imperial domains (CLICK HERE to read about Sabbath laws in the Roman Empire).  In the fourth century, laws pertaining to Sunday were enacted by Roman Emperors. Unlike Sabbath protections, these were a nuanced ideal.

The first Sunday laws, perhaps in history, were enacted in 321 by Constantine. Before we delve into these two laws, it is important to recognize that he held the title pontifex maximus. This was an ancient pagan Roman title that allowed him to control the religious calendar of the Empire. As we will see, his Sunday laws are consistent with the idea of the pontifex maximus. We have a copy of his first two Sunday laws below:

Law 1: “All Judges and city people and the craftsmen shall rest upon the venerable Day of the Sun*. Country people, however, may freely attend to the cultivation of the fields, because it frequently happens that no other days are better adapted for planting the grain in the furrows or the vines in trenches. So that the advantage given by heavenly providence may not for the occasion of a short time perish” – March 7, 321 (CJ 3.12.2 [some list as 3.12.3], English: Ayers, 284-285; Latin: Krueger, p 127).

*In the Latin manuscript of this law, the phrase translated as “venerable day of the sun” is venerabili die solis. Constantine’s decree was based upon honoring and esteeming the celestial body we call the sun.

Law 2: “Just as it appears to Us most unseemly that the Day of the Sun (Sunday), which is celebrated on account of its own veneration, should be occupied with legal altercations and with noxious controversies of the litigation of contending parties, so it is pleasant and fitting that those acts which are especially desired shall be accomplished on that day. 1. Therefore all men shall have the right to emancipate and to manumit on this festive day [Latin: festo], and the legal formalities thereof are not forbidden” – July 3, 321 (CT: 2.8.1; English: Pharr, p 44; Latin: Haenel, p 207).

Many have assumed that these laws were issued to honor God or promote the agenda of the Roman Catholic Church. This would be a stretch to say the least. These decrees did not mention Jesus or the God of the Bible. No penalty was issued for those who did not comply. Additionally, this law was not designed to mirror the Biblical Sabbath. Notice that farmers were not allowed to take off work on the day. The God of the Holy Bible gave us the Sabbath (Friday sunset to Saturday sunset) as the weekly day of rest for all people, regardless of their occupation.

As the pontifex maximus, Constantine had responsibilities to uphold certain Roman ideals regarding celebrations for the Roman people. The ancient writer Cicero, who lived from about 106 to 43 BC, wrote about this subject. His writings will help clarify the 321 Sun-day laws. In his work On Law, he described special characteristics of the ancient Roman celebrations.

“Next, our provision for holidays and festivals [Latin: feriarum festorumque dierum] ordains rest from lawsuits and controversies for free men, and from labour and toil for slaves. Whoever plans the official year ought to arrange that these festivals shall come at the completion of the various labours of the farm…” (idem, 2.12[29]).

The principles described by Cicero continued to be applied to Roman festivals during the Imperial period. This included the Saturnalia (Dec 17-24) and the Kalends of January (Jan 1-3), which were still celebrated even in Constantine’s time (see Seneca, Epistulae, 18.1-4; Lucian, Saturnalia, sec 2 and Chronosolon, sec 13-14; Dio Cassius, Roman History, 60.19.3; Macrobius, Saturnalia; and Libianus, Oration, 9).

Constantine’s 321 Sunday laws matched the anticipated patterns for Roman festivals described by Cicero and other ancient authors. The issues of work and agricultural toils were addressed in the first law. While farmers were not granted rest on the day, their appropriate behavior was discussed to be consistent with other festivals. Many annual festivals related in some way to the harvest cycle. It was not logical to allow farmers off on Sunday since there is not a weekly crop. In the second law, most legal proceedings were suspended and freedom for slaves were addressed. The Latin word festo was employed in this law.

The day after his first Sunday law, he received a law allowing the pagan soothsayers to enter buildings where lightning had struck (CT: 16.10.1). This decree upheld the ancient Roman custom where a ceremony was used to determine which god or goddess was angry and how to pacify him/her. Tacitus, writing a couple of centuries earlier, mentioned that pontiffs were involved with overseeing the haruspices (Annals, 11.15).

Balkans Inscription

A third Sunday law from Constantine’s reign is recorded on an inscription found in a Slavonian bath house. To understand this inscription, one must grasp that the Romans had two ways that they calculated weeks. There was the market week, which was composed of eight days. Every eighth day was nundinae or market day. The inscription informs us that Constantine adjusted the ancient Roman nundinae or market day so that it would occur every dies solis instead of every eighth day (Orellius, p 140). Despite this ruling, the dual system of eight-day and seven-day weeks continued into at least the mid-fourth century AD.

While Constantine did show favor to Christians, he also continued to honor paganism in obvious ways. He honored the sun god Sol Invictus on monuments and coins; his Sunday laws are congruent with this sentiment. In the case of these Sunday laws, he utilized the title pontifex maximus to promote dies solis as a weekly feast day (in the Roman sense). One can be hardly surprised. His Sunday laws lack the necessary evidence to have firm Roman Catholic influence. First, he did not recognize it as the first day of the week or the Lord’s Day (pagans considered Sunday to be the second day of the week; we will likely cover this subject in a future BSA article). Secondly, the Roman Church did not have a developed theology about Sunday rest in 321 AD. The first Roman Church Council to discuss Sunday rest does not occur until about 364 (Laodicea).

A last, but not least, development which occurred during his reign is the gradual joining of the Roman Church and Roman State. Constantine paid the expenses of some Church Councils (Eusebius, Church History, 10.6). He ruled that clergy and their families did not have to pay taxes (CT: 16.2.10). By law, people could leave property to the Roman Church at death (CT: 16.2.4 [321]). In 326, he passed a law that granted the Roman Church special privileges. All other Christian groups were not allowed these privileges and were bound to public service (CT: 16.5.1).

In addition to these measures, he regulated the number of clergy in Christianity (CT: 16.2.6 [326 AD]). The wealthy were prevented from serving in these positions; only the poor could serve in them ([10.2.6 [326 or 329 AD]). He prevented clerics from being summoned to municipal councils for public service (10.2.6, 10.2.7 [330 AD]). Secular judges were even forced to enforce the decisions of Catholic Bishops; when such a bishop testified, his witness was considered supreme and voided all others (CS: 1 [333 AD]).

During the reign of Theodosius, this union between Church and State was made complete. We will review this occurrence in the second part of this series. The next Sunday law was enacted about 45-50 years later by the Roman Emperors Valentinian and Valens.

“Emperors Valentinian and Valens Augustuses to Florianus, Governor of Venetia. It is our will that no Christian shall be sued by tax collectors on the Day of the Sun (Sunday), which has long* been considered holy**, and by this interdict of our statute we sanction peril against any person who should dare to commit this offense” – April 21, 368, 370, 371 (CT: 8.8.1; English: Pharr, 209; Latin: Haenel, p 754).

*The Latin phrase translated as “long” is qui dudum. It more refers to the present and the immediate past rather than a long period of time (Lewis, A Latin Dictionary). This is different than the Sabbath – which the Roman Emperors viewed as being sacred since ‘ancient times’ (Latin: vetus).

**Notice the word ‘holy’ in the law. This is not a good translation. The underlying Latin word is faustus; it means lucky, fortunate, or a good omen. The word can have religious meaning, but it does not have to. In other words, Sunday was considered a lucky day.

This law was written to the governor of Venetia, which was a province in northeastern Italy. This means that it was likely not applied in other areas. This is the first Roman law that mentions Christianity in relationship to Sunday. Notice that nearly fifty years after the first Sunday laws, Roman Emperors still did not use the term Lord’s day; this continues to show a lack of Roman Church influence.

One thing that we can learn from this law is that there must have been a significant number of Christians in Venetia who kept Sunday. Tax collections still took place on Sunday up until this law was issued. This law was repeated as CT:11.7.10.

We will continue this subject next week!

To read more about this subject, download our free booklet Sabbath and Sunday Laws in the Roman Empire by clicking HERE

Kelly McDonald, Jr.

BSA President – www.biblesabbath.org

Sources Cited

Ayers, Joseph Cullen. A Source Book For Ancient Church History. New York. Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1913. pp 284-285.

Cicero, On Law, 2.12(29). Translated by Clinton Walker Keyes. New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1928. pp 406-407.

Codex Justinian, 3.12.2. Latin. Corpus Iuris Civilis. Krueger, Paulus, ed. Vol 2. Codex Iustinianus. Berlin, 1892. p 127.

Codex Theodosianus. English. Translated by Clyde Pharr. The Theodosian Code and Novels and the Sirmondian Constitutions. Princeton University, 1952. pp 44, 209.

Codex Theodosianus. Latin. Edited by Gustavus Haenel. Novellae Constitutiones Imperatorum Theodosii II., Valentinianii III., Maximi, Severi, Anthemii. Ad XLII Librorum Manuscriptorum Et Priorum Editionum Fidem Recognovit Et Annotatione Critica Instuxit. Lipsiensis, 1841-1842. Vol 2: pp 207, 754. Vol 3: pp 1070-71.

Encyclopedia Britannica. 11th edition. Article: Mithras.

Lewis, Charlton T. A Latin Dictionary. Oxford, Clarendon Press. 1879. Entry: dudum.

Orellius, Johann Caspar. Inscriptionum Latinarum Selectarum Amplissima Collecto. Romanae Antiquitatis. Vol 1. 1828. p 140, no 508.

The First Holy Thing

The First Holy Thing

By Kenneth Westby

“In the Holy Bible, what is the very first holy “thing” mentioned? Is it holy ground; holy altar; holy vessel; holy water; holy oil; holy people; holy temple; holy mountain; holy apple. No, the first holy thing mentioned is a day.

In the history of the world the first thing labeled “holy” is a day. Not any day, but one specific day in seven—the seventh. Isn’t it surprising that a specific segment of time is the first holy object? Why would a day be the first thing to receive the quality of divine holiness? Is there not some mystery in this?

Holiness is derivative. Biblically, there is only one source of holiness—God. Nothing in creation is inherently holy, but any part of it can, by God’s dictate, be made holy. He can set apart or sanctify a thing, a place, a people, a time as holy. The very first mention of holy in the entire Bible is at the presentation of the crowning capstone to the creation week.

 The climax to creation isn’t some final thing God “made”…it is what God himself did with his own life. The crowning glory of creation is what the Creator personally did…in full view of his creation…”

(this article is an excerpt from the Nov-Dec 1999 edition of the Sabbath Sentinel)To read the rest of this article, which starts on page 16, click this link: https://biblesabbath.org/tss/480/tss_480.pdf

Sabbath Meditation #31– God With Us

Sabbath Meditation #31 – God With Us
By Kelly McDonald, Jr.

“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth…And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God”…the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him: And they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads” (Rev. 21:1a, 3, 22:3b-4).

“22 For as the new heavens and the new earth, which I will make, shall remain before me, saith the LORD, so shall your seed and your name remain. 23 And it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to another, and from one sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith the LORD” (Isaiah 66:22-23).

“Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness” (2 Peter 3:13).

The New Heavens and the New Earth are the final phase of God’s plan for humanity. That is where we will spend eternity with God and Christ. It is called the home of righteousness in 2 Peter 3:13. In Isaiah 66:22-23, we also learn that the Sabbath will still be observed – not by a remnant or a small group, but by everyone! Many wonderful promises await us there, such as those described in Rev. 21:4-6:

“4 And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. 5 And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful. 6 – I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely.”

In this present age, we rest from the weary world around us on the Sabbath. We must persevere through trials, heartaches, and sorrows, yet still learn how to rest in the Lord God Almighty. In the home of righteousness, the sorrow and pain that started in the Garden of Eden will no longer exist.

In the home of righteousness, our tears will be wiped away! We won’t need rest from weariness of work, healing from rejection, and defensiveness from satan’s wiles. We will not have to ponder the instabilities of the age that we live in now. We will not have concern about our family members not living the right way. Everyone in the New Heavens and New Earth will be our permanent family. At that time, people will no longer make poor decisions or operate selfishly.

There are benefits of the Sabbath that we will understand then which we could not understand now because we are presently limited in our knowledge of spiritual and physical things. “9  For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. 10  But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away” (I Cor. 13:9-10). There are also aspects of the Sabbath we will experience then that are available only for glorified beings.

In the New Heavens and the New Earth, God and Christ will be permanently dwelling with us. This means that we will not have to reach out to God and Christ merely in the Spirit by prayer or worship. We will no longer wonder where God is when we need Him; we will see His face. This means that our Sabbath observance will be much more intimate and fulfilling than it has ever been in our present age. They will be with us in the most personable, intimate way possible. In that future age, the physical and spiritual will be merged for the whole universe. We will have a peace and assurance that transcends anything we have ever experienced in this age.

I pray that these thoughts will spur you on to honor the Sabbath in this age as we look forward to its observance in the home of righteousness when God is with us!


Kelly McDonald, Jr.

BSA President – www.biblesabbath.org

Just What Is a Woman’s Role in the Church?

Just What Is a Woman’s Role in the Church?

by Royce Mitchell, Jr.

“Over the years, I have been consistently troubled by the seeming disparity in the way that women are “dealt with” as compared to how men are treated in “the Church.” This discrepancy seems to have come from a myopic interpretation of certain scriptures within the confining context of societal predispositions. I have admittedly been complacent on the issue—due to a lack of being directly affected—yet, when challenged on this, it became clear that the time was overdue to find out exactly what God has to say.

In order to gain a clearer view of God’s perspective as it relates to women in His Church, one must first look deeply into what God has placed within the authority of women. That is best done by first checking the Old Testament scriptures which relate to women. We should find the answers to the following questions as we search: “What can a woman do and not do?”, “What have women done under the approval of God?”, “Is a man the head of a woman, or is the husband head of the wife?”, “Why is the distinction of man and husband important?”, “When does a man become the head of a woman?”, “What does it mean to be the head?”, and “Does a woman ever have authority?”. Let’s begin at our beginning….”

(this article is an excerpt from the September—October 2000 edition of the Sabbath Sentinel)

To read the rest of this article, which starts on page 16, click this link: https://biblesabbath.org/tss/485/tss_485.pdf