The council of Laodicea states in cannon 29:

Christians must not judaize by resting on the Sabbath, but must work on that day, rather honouring the Lord's Day; and, if they can, resting then as Christians. But if any shall be found to be judaizers, let them be anathema from Christ.

Anathema, being basically excommunication, is a serious thing. Why did the members of this council consider Saturday worship a sin and even worthy of such punishment? Why were Saturday worshipers on the same level as heretics and enemies of the church?

Also, why would the church state something that is in direct contrast with the ten commandments? Calling the Sabbath rest Judaizing is one thing, but then it says to do it on Sunday.

8 “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. 11 For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy. Exodus 20:8-11

I would prefer answers from theologians and church leaders of this time. What did they say about it?

The complete canons can be read here.

  • anathema means accursed - that's a fair sight worse than excommunicated – warren Apr 22 '13 at 19:41

There has been a lot has been said about the Bible Sabbath over the years. Some believe that it is the "Seventh Day" and others believe that it is now the First Day. Allow me to begin here: In the New Testament, there are well over 80+ references to the Seventh-Day Sabbath and only 8 references to the First Day of the week. In Acts chapter 18 alone, which was approximately 21 years AFTER the resurrection, you can find the day that Paul was accustomed to keeping holy eluded to 78 times! (see verses 4 & 11 and chapter 17:2 for Paul's customary day of worship).

In regard to the First-Day texts, here they are--Matthew 28:1 // Luke 23:50-56 through 24:1-3 // Mark 16:1-4 // Mark 16:9-11 // John 20:1 // John 20:19 // 1 Corinthians 16:1-3 // Acts 20:7-11. These are the ONLY references to the First-Day of the week. None of which have a commend for a change of the Holy Day, a command for worship, or anything of the sort.

Mark wrote his gospel anywhere from 10-30 years after the cross and mentions not a thing about any change. John's gospel was written about 60 years after Jesus was resurrected and was also silent about any sort of "Holy Day" change. He simply tells of the same event as the other gospel writers. If you notice, Mark 16:1-4 actually refers to both Marys waiting until the Sabbath had past to go anoint Jesus on the First-Day of the week.

Now, in reference to the other two verse sections, 1 Corinthians 16:1-3 & Acts 20:7-11, many different ideas are out there for what these verses really mean. Honestly, the truth is in the texts! In 1 Corinthians 16:1-3, some would say this is an offering being taken at a Sunday (First-Day) morning church service. But the text doesn’t say that. Notice this was an offering “for the saints” and not “of the saints.” Also take note that they were to “lay by him in store.” The actual Greek language reads, “Let each one of you put on one side and store up at home” (Weymouth); “store it up” (ESV); “put aside and save” (NASB). This was not a command to take offerings at church, but to store an offering up at home on Sunday. In other words, Paul was saying to store up an offering FIRST in the beginning of the week so when I (Paul) come, it will be ready for me to take with me. Why store up? 9. Read Acts 11:27-29. There was “great dearth”, or “famine” in Jerusalem. The disciples sent relief to help their “brethren” in Judaea. Also read Romans 15:25-28. This was a relief offering taken to help the Christians in Jerusalem who were experiencing a famine.

Now to Acts 20:7-11. This verse is one that some point to as evidence the disciples were worshiping on Sunday since they were "breaking bread and preaching". Let’s notice several things about this text.

First, preaching and breaking bread DOES NOT make a day holy. I, personally, have broken bread and listened to preaching on almost every day of the week. Breaking bread doesn’t mean they were celebrating a "communion service" at church. Look at Acts 2:46. They broke bread everyday and not just Sunday! In Acts 27:33-35, Paul broke bread with unbelievers. It meant they were simply eating together.

Secondly, this event actually takes place on Saturday night and not Sunday morning as many suppose. Notice Paul preached until midnight, there were "many lights" (it was dark outside), Eutychus fell asleep (it was late at night), and Paul preached until the "break of day" and then went on a trip. That is most likely why they were have food... to celebrate a possible last moment with Paul before he went on his journey.

Also, this was definitely the dark part of the first day of the week. Which would’ve actually been Saturday night (Genesis. 1:5, 8, "and Evening and Morning were the first day."). Paul preached Saturday night and left Sunday morning on a journey. He didn’t go to church on Sunday morning! This actually disproves Sunday keeping since Paul goes on a long journey on Sunday morning and doesn’t "keep it holy".

The Seventh-Day Sabbath was made Holy by God Himself in the creation week. He Rested, be Blessed it, and He Sanctified the Seventh-Day in the beginning. In Malachi 3:6 and Hebrews 13:8, the Bible says that God "does not change". Jesus Says "if you love Me, keep My commandments". In Isaiah 66:22 & 23, the LORD tells us that we will be worshiping Him "from one Sabbath to another" in heaven! It was also Jesus custom to worship, go to church, on the Seventh-Day Sabbath (Luke 4:16).

The Sabbath of the Bible was also given way before the first "Jew" existed. Refer to Exodus 16:25-30 to see that the Commandments of God and His Sabbath existed BEFORE Sinai.

So, if it was made Holy at the beginning, it was kept all throughout the Old Testament, Jesus kept it Holy, Paul kept it Holy, the Gentile converts kept it Holy, and the Lord says that we will worship Him on the Sabbath in Heaven, don't you think it is important to keep the Seventh-Day Holy now? After all, it is the 4th Commandment.

Finally, "Judaizing" is something that does not concern a Bible Christian. It was a phrase that originated in the council of Laodicea. It concerns the Roman church. If you want to be strictly a bible Christian, Jesus again says, "If you love Me, keep My commandments." That definitely includes His "Sign" of sanctification between Him and His people (Ezekiel 20:12).

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    Welcome to the site. We are very happy to have you participate here. You clearly know a good deal about the Bible and Christianity, however, you did not quite answer my question. This site is a little different than you are probably used to. Take a look at the tour pages and the help center. Also see Newcomers: Be patient. You will get there if you follow our direction. Keep trying and the posts linked there as well. I gave you a plus one for putting in a good effort. – 3961 Aug 26 '13 at 21:53
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    I would be very happy to see you post again in the near future. Take a look at the pages I linked too, then find another question that you can answer and have a crack at it. – 3961 Aug 26 '13 at 21:53
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    As discussed here the term Judaize occurs literally in the Bible in Galatians 2:14: Ἰουδαΐζειν. So saying it does not concern a Bible Christian is, well, inaccurate. – Ross Presser Aug 31 '13 at 19:30
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    This answer represents very much a minority view of Christians, even 'Bible Christians'. – DJClayworth Sep 25 '13 at 3:54
  • +DJClayworth, Truth and correct doctrine are not determined by a majority vote. – The Duke Of Marshall שלום Nov 7 '19 at 3:03

Judaizer is a term for those early Christians who held that adherence to Mosaic law was necessary for salvation. Observance of these laws (such as circumcision and the distinction of clean and unclean foods) was proscribed in Acts 15 and 11, respectively.

The New Testament distinguishes the Lord's Day from the Sabbath, and it commemorates the day of the Resurrection. While the topic has only a few scriptural references (e.g., Acts 20:7, Rev 1:10), the testimony of the early Church Fathers is consistent.

The intent by the Council in using the term Judaizer seems clear: Christianity is not just another sect of Judaism. Jews worship on the seventh day, the Sabbath. Christians worship on the eighth day of Creation, the Lord's Day, to commemorate the day of the Resurrection. Those who teach otherwise must be called out.

You can find the complete canons of the Synod of Laodicea here.

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  • Thanks for the link. I made an edit to the question. Do you have a second, non-Catholic source (secular would be best) that verifies the use of the word Judaizer? – 3961 Apr 20 '13 at 13:25
  • Wiki articles are usually reliable, especially when sourced with references, and the one on Judaizers is no exception. – Firstrock Apr 20 '13 at 15:42
  • The Council of Laodicea is not a Catholic thing. I predates the division of the church into Catholic and 'others'. – DJClayworth Sep 25 '13 at 4:09
  • let us continue this discussion in chat – DJClayworth Sep 26 '13 at 0:58

"[W]e too would observe the fleshly circumcision, and the Sabbaths, and in short all the feasts, if we did not know for what reason they were enjoined [on] you—namely, on account of your transgressions and the hardness of your heart. . . . [H]ow is it, Trypho, that we would not observe those rites which do not harm us—I speak of fleshly circumcision and Sabbaths and feasts? . . . God enjoined you to keep the Sabbath, and imposed on you other precepts for a sign, as I have already said, on account of your unrighteousness and that of your fathers . . ." (Dialogue with Trypho the Jew 18, 21 [A.D. 155]).

It would seem to me that the argument given by Justin Martyr is that because the law (Old Testament and specifically Genesis-Deuteronomy) had been fulfilled by Christ, then it was no longer necessary to keep them, seeing as they were fulfilled in Christ. Now that Christ has become the lamb of God, we no longer need to keep passover...etc. It appears that this was his logic behind the 7th day sabbath, saying Christ is our sabbath and when we come to him we enter into that rest. It becomes apparent then, that to impose these things (circumcision, sabbath, passover, etc.) would be taking us back and placing us under the requirements of the law and tying our doing of those deeds to our justification/salvation.

The sabbath thus being done away with, having been fulfilled, the Christian must find a day to worship on.

"But Sunday is the day on which we all hold our common assembly, because it is the first day on which God, having wrought a change in the darkness and matter, made the world; and Jesus Christ our Savior on the same day rose from the dead" (First Apology 67 [A.D. 155]).

This day becomes Sunday, for various reasons. It is the beginning of the Creation of God, and God was birthing new creations in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV). This is confirmed by Athanasius (who was a contemporary of the council and probably took part.) saying:

"The Sabbath was the end of the first creation, the Lord’s day was the beginning of the second, in which he renewed and restored the old in the same way as he prescribed that they should formerly observe the Sabbath as a memorial of the end of the first things, so we honor the Lord’s day as being the memorial of the new creation" (On Sabbath and Circumcision 3 [A.D. 345]).

And it was the Day of the Resurrection, the same being shown to be the beginning of new life after we have died to the flesh. (Romans 6:4-11)

Hope this helps.

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  • Well, kind of. It isn't really about the council. This post mostly just quotes some random contemporaries. Also, the second part of my question about the Sabbath being a commandment is ignored. Your quotes might lead one to think that any day is acceptable. The council condemned Sabbath worship, calling those who would do it, anathema, which is a very serious thing. – 3961 Nov 27 '13 at 19:20
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    Not bad for a first post. I hope you post more on other questions. The community would be very happy to have another regular, well read member. – 3961 Nov 27 '13 at 19:20
  • Welcome to the site! Like fredsbend, I hope to see more of you! This next has nothing to do with the quality of your answer, it's just standard to help new visitors avoid misunderstanding the site (as I did at first.) As a new visitor, I'd recommend checking out the following two posts, which are meant to help newcomers "learn the ropes": help page and How we are different than other sites? – David Stratton Nov 27 '13 at 19:42

In Christianity, it has been central tenet that Christians are free from the Law since the very beginning. The New Testament very much makes it clear that observance of holy days, including the Sabbath, is optional for Christians. Paul makes it clear in Romans 14.

One person considers one day more sacred than another; another considers every day alike. Each of them should be fully convinced in their own mind. Whoever regards one day as special does so to the Lord. Whoever eats meat does so to the Lord, for they give thanks to God; and whoever abstains does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God.

The vast majority of Christians have not celebrated the Jewish Sabbath since the time of Paul, based on this teaching. Over time there has arisen a tradition of observing a day of rest on the first day, and this has grown up and been strong in the Catholic church, but also in many others (Scottish Presbyterians are very fervent in keeping, so please don't try to tell them it's a Catholic tradition).

The pronouncement at the council of Laodicia is not against those who keep a day of rest. It is against those who insist that keeping a Sabbath is necessary for the Christian. Such an insistance is viewed as a return to the jewish Law, and thus entirely incompatible with Christianity (other have of course disagreed with them).

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  • Duplicating this comment here for others. I used to think that Romans 14 would apply to the Sabbath. But you can search the entire chapter and not find one mention of the Sabbath. Romans 14 is purely a reference to the feast days. It cannot be a reference to the seventh-day Sabbath for at least two reasons. First, Matthew 5:17-18 says the ten commandments are still binding. Secondly Paul writes in Hebrews 4:9 "There remains therefore a rest for the people of God." The word rest there is sabbatismos which means a keeping of the Sabbath. blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/… May the Lord guide us. – HelloWorld Sep 25 '13 at 15:05
  • The spirit of the verse you quote is that you may rest on any day you want, or even not at all. The spirit of the Council quote is never rest on the Sabbath, you must work the Sabbath, honor the Lord's Day instead and rest then if you can. It is very distinctly saying that it is wrong to rest any other day. The Council changed the Sabbath; they did not loosen the rules on it. – 3961 Oct 25 '13 at 3:41
  • @HelloWorld Matthew 5 doesn't single out the Ten COmmandments. If you think it means the Law is still in force, then ALL of the Law is still in force. You would have to stop eating pork or wearing mixed fibre clothing. You would also have to ignore much of Paul's writings. – DJClayworth Oct 25 '13 at 13:21

They did this in accordance with what God prophesied through Daniel 7:25 that the little horn would think to change times and laws. There is no such thing as commemoration of the first day, acts 20:7 was a service which began immediately following the Sabbath, which is when the first day begins. As soon as the sun rose on the first day, the apostle left that city, there was no Sunday morning worship done by ANY person in the bible EVER! The Lord's day is NOT Sunday because God sanctified His day at the creation. The ONLY reason Sunday has ever come up is because of Rome and laws they passed against God's law, which is what Daniel 7:25 talks about!

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