Constantine and Christianity – His Sunday legacy
Prior to Constantine, the church had implemented several changes. It was Constantine who officially established Sunday observance through his edict of 321. “Let all the judges and town people, and the occupation of all trades, rest on the venerable day of the sun, but let those who are situated in the country, freely and at full liberty, attend to the business of agriculture; because it often happens that no other day is so fit for sowing corn and planting vines; lest the critical moment being let slip, men should lose the commodities granted by heaven.”
Even at the time of this edict, it’s important to recognize that Constantine was an avid sun worshiper. According to most historians, he did not convert to Christianity until his deathbed. However, many question whether his conversion was sincere. Regardless, his impact on the Church is well documented. According to author Kenneth Latourette, “He did not make Christianity the sole religion of the state. That was to follow under later Emperors. He continued to support both paganism and Christianity. In 314, when the cross first appeared on his coins, it was accompanied by the figures of Sol Invictus and Mars Conservator. To the end of his days he bore the title of pontifex Maximus as chief priest of the pagan state cult. The subservient Roman Senate followed the long-established custom and classed him among the gods” (A History of Christianity, p. 92).
It is a fact that today’s Church does not resemble the early New Testament assembly in many facets. Many biblical scholars rightfully point out that the early assembly resembled more of Judaism. It would have likely been considered another Jewish sect until it was radically changed through the Church’s adoption of pagan Greek ideas.
Author Earle E. Cairns corroborates this conclusion in his book, Christianity Through the Centuries: “Christianity may have developed in the political milieu of Rome and may have had to face the intellectual environment created by the Greek mind, but its relationship to Judaism was much more intimate. Judaism may be thought of as the stalk on which the rose of Christianity was to bloom…. Judaism provided the heredity of Christianity and, for a time, even gave the infant religion shelter…. The Jewish people still further prepared the way for the coming of Christianity by providing the infant Church with a sacred book, the Old Testament. Even a casual study of the New Testament will reveal Christs’ and the apostles’ deep indebtedness to the Old Testament and their reverence for it as the Word of [Yahweh] to man…. The books of the Old Testament and the books of the New Testament, given under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, were to be the living literature of the Church,” pp. 44-46.
While Sunday may have been observed by some within the Church prior to Constantine, he was responsible for establishing Sunday observance as civil law. He also influenced the church in many other ways.
As a ministry we are not concerned about church tradition, church fathers or church councils, but only what the Bible states and how the Messiah and the apostles worshiped in the New Testament. It is a biblical fact that they worshipped on the seventh-day Sabbath and that Sunday was introduced by man-made tradition. The Sabbath is mentioned 60 times in the New Testament while the “first day of the week” is referenced only 8 times in the KJV and not once to a day of worship. We encourage you to consider the facts and look not to early church councils and practices, but to what the Messiah and his apostles did in the New Testament. We believe that you will see a stark contrast between the two.