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Joined: 2006/8/17
Posts: 111
Middlebury, Indiana

 Did the Early Church Keep the Sabbath and feasts?

roman wrote,

Is there a more explicit evidence (aside from Rom 14 as you stated) that the early Christians did not keep the feasts?

Well, I wasn't really using that for evidence that the Christians didn't celebrate feast days. Although, I think it is implied in Romans 14 that either option is acceptable according to the individuals concience.

There are, however, scriptures that seem to diminish the value of such days:

Col. 2:16-17 "Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ."

The entirety of Galatians is devoted to the Christians relationship to the law, which Paul calls a yoke of bondage (Gal 5:1).
Gal. 4:8-11 "Howbeit then, when ye knew not God, ye did service unto them which by nature are no gods. But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage? Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years. I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain." This said to Christians who were apparently being compelled to keep the law by Judiazers.

Gal. 2:14 "But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before them all, If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews?"

Gal. 3:19-29 “Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator. Now a mediator is not a mediator of one, but God is one. Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law. But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe. But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster. For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.”

John 4:21 “Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.”

There are other references to the abandonment of Jewish worship in the Ante-Nicean Fathers. I don’t know what your take is on those. Obviously not scripture. But, gives us a good historical account on how different things were viewed. Before you say its al heretical tell me, who wrote Matthew, Mark, Luke and John? They are all anonymous! And the titles were added, not part of the original. So, why do you believe these gospels were written by who they are? Because the early Church Fathers (Ante-Nicean) wrote that they were. My take is, if I am willing to trust them with what is and was scripture, then I am willing to at least consider what they had to say.

Here’s a couple chapters of Mathetes [AD 130] an epistle written to Diognetus, a guy who was inquiring to the author on what Christianity was all about.

Chapter III.-Superstitions of the Jews.
And next, I imagine that you are most desirous of hearing something on this point, that the Christians do not observe the same forms of divine worship as do the Jews. The Jews, then, if they abstain from the kind of service above described, and deem it proper to worship one God as being Lord of all, [are right]; but if they offer Him worship in the way which we have described, they greatly err. For while the Gentiles, by offering such things to those that are destitute of sense and hearing, furnish an example of madness; they, on the other hand by thinking to offer these things to God as if He needed them, might justly reckon it rather an act of folly than of divine worship. For He that made heaven and earth, and all that is therein, and gives to us all the things of which we stand in need, certainly requires none of those things which He Himself bestows on such as think of furnishing them to Him. But those who imagine that, by means of blood, and the smoke of sacrifices and burnt-offerings, they offer sacrifices [acceptable] to Him, and that by such honours they show Him respect,-these, by supposing that they can give anything to Him who stands in need of nothing, appear to me in no respect to differ from those who studiously confer the same honour on things destitute of sense, and which therefore are unable to enjoy such honours.

Chapter IV.-The Other Observances of the Jews.
But as to their scrupulosity concerning meats, and their superstition as respects the Sabbaths, and their boasting about circumcision, and their fancies about fasting and the new moons, which are utterly ridiculous and unworthy of notice,-I do not think that you require to learn anything from me. For, to accept some of those things which have been formed by God for the use of men as properly formed, and to reject others as useless and redundant,-how can this be lawful? And to speak falsely of God, as if He forbade us to do what is good on the Sabbath-days,-how is not this impious? And to glory in the circumcision of the flesh as a proof of election, and as if, on account of it, they were specially beloved by God,-how is it not a subject of ridicule? And as to their observing months and days, as if waiting upon the stars and the moon, and their distributing, according to their own tendencies, the appointments of God, and the vicissitudes of the seasons, some for festivities, and others for mourning,-who would deem this a part of divine worship, and not much rather a manifestation of folly? I suppose, then, you are sufficiently convinced that the Christians properly abstain from the vanity and error common [to both Jews and Gentiles], and from the busy-body spirit and vain boasting of the Jews; but you must not hope to learn the mystery of their peculiar mode of worshipping God from any mortal.

Chapter V.-The Manners of the Christians.
For the Christians are distinguished from other men neither by country, nor language, nor the customs which they observe. For they neither inhabit cities of their own, nor employ a peculiar form of speech, nor lead a life which is marked out by any singularity. The course of conduct which they follow has not been devised by any speculation or deliberation of inquisitive men; nor do they, like some, proclaim themselves the advocates of any merely human doctrines. But, inhabiting Greek as well as barbarian cities, according as the lot of each of them has determined, and following the customs of the natives in respect to clothing, food, and the rest of their ordinary conduct, they display to us their wonderful and confessedly striking method of life. They dwell in their own countries, but simply as sojourners. As citizens, they share in all things with others, and yet endure all things as if foreigners. Every foreign land is to them as their native country, and every land of their birth as a land of strangers. They marry, as do all [others]; they beget children; but they do not destroy their offspring. They have a common table, but not a common bed. They are in the flesh, but they do not live after the flesh. They pass their days on earth, but they are citizens of heaven. They obey the prescribed laws, and at the same time surpass the laws by their lives. They love all men, and are persecuted by all. They are unknown and condemned; they are put to death, and restored to life. They are poor, yet make many rich; they are in lack of all things, and yet abound in all; they are dishonoured, and yet in their very dishonour are glorified. They are evil spoken of, and yet are justified; they are reviled, and bless; they are insulted, and repay the insult with honour; they do good, yet are punished as evil-doers. When punished, they rejoice as if quickened into life; they are assailed by the Jews as foreigners, and are persecuted by the Greeks; yet those who hate them are unable to assign any reason for their hatred.

There are more references but I don’t have the time right now to devote to finding them. If I get a chance, I’ll find more during the weekend and post them Monday.

EDIT: This is a continuation from the following thread, follow the link in the opening message and read the article:

Neil Long

 2007/1/12 9:22Profile

Joined: 2006/3/22
Posts: 963
Wheaton, IL

 Re: Did the Early Church Keep the Sabbath and feasts?

My understanding is as follows. The Sabbath was on Saturday and is still recognized on this day by those under the old law. The early Christians however celebrated their risen savior on Sunday, the first day of the week, the day of his resurrection!

Although early Hewbrew Christians may have attended synagogues as either a community activity or in order to preach the Gospel to their Jewish brothers... but most likely this did not last long as the persecution mounted against the early church.

As for Jewish festivals, most of them continued to be practiced by the early Christians (and are practiced by Orthodox and Catholic believers today, although not in the same ways) they especially focused their celebrations around Pentacost and Easter being the early churches number 2 and number 1 feasts/celebrations respectively.

Pentacost is originally a Jewish festival, but we all know what happened to the early church on Pentacost!

Easter, although very much a Christian celebration has it's roots in the Pass Over, which many early Christians celebrated with new found meaning as part of the Easter season.

As for Pagan celebrations, feasts and festivals -Paul wasn't totally against them... he warned against eating meat sacrificed to Idols, but not because it was bad, but that it might stumble others. We can join in a feast with others even if they are celebrating something we don't believe in, because we know that they are celebrating something that doesn't exhist... however we must be sure not to compromise our testimony to the weak in faith, or to those we are sharing the Gospel with.

We me know that it is lawful to eat meat sacrificed to Idols (or in our day and age to have dinner with a Jewish friend celebrating passover) but that doesn't necessarily mean that it is prudent to do so if we may give off the wrong impression upon others.

Ian Smith

 2007/1/12 11:30Profile

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