From Sabbath to Lord’s Day: Examining the Ethics of Sunday -- By: James Hilton

Journal: Faith and Mission
Volume: FM 17:3 (Summer 2000)
Article: From Sabbath to Lord’s Day: Examining the Ethics of Sunday
Author: James Hilton

From Sabbath to Lord’s Day:
Examining the Ethics of Sunday

James Hilton

M.Div. Student
Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary
Wake Forest, North Carolina 27587


As I was growing up, I had two great friends who lived down the street. One was a Seventh-Day Adventist, the other an Independent Baptist. Since I was a Southern Baptist, we had our own little ecumenical movement in my neighborhood. While we did not talk a lot about religious matters, I was intrigued by the day they chose to attend church and the manner in which they observed that day. I remember asking my father to explain why Joe, the Seventh-Day Adventist, went to church on Saturday and could not play at all that day. I would ask him why Pat, the Independent Baptist, went to church on Sunday but then was not allowed to play for the rest of the day. My father explained their beliefs on the various ways they interpreted the worship passages in the Bible. As I have grown, I have been confronted from time to time with this same issue.

The issue is not an easy one. How should the Christian observe the Lord’s Day? This question is truly important due to that fact that it reflects a great ethical concern. To some, worshiping on Sunday is an abomination and makes one disloyal to God; to others, doing any sort of work on that day is an obscenity.1 Is this really true? Which way is the right way? Some Christians claim the Sabbath is the seventh day (Saturday), and that all Christians ought to observe the seventh day as a day of rest and worship. Other believers claim that since the resurrection of Christ, the Sabbath is changed from the seventh day to the first day and that now all Christians ought to observe Sunday as a day of rest and worship. These believers call Sunday “the Christian Sabbath,” call Sunday school “the Sabbath school,” and believe that all the commands in the Old Testament about the Sabbath ought to be applied to Sunday, the first day of the week.

This dilemma causes many Christians to be totally confused, like the present writer was as a boy. What does it mean to “remember the Sabbath and keep it holy”? Many Christians disagree over this issue; some say that other believers are sinners because they do not observe the Lord’s Day in the proper manner. This paper will examine the biblical and historical evidence to help shed some light on this perplexing ethical question.

This paper will look first at the history of the Sabbath to get a firm foundation of what the Sabbath truly was meant to be. Starting with the Old Testament teaching on the Sabbath to see what the Sabbath really meant...

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