The Pope Nor the Roman Catholic Church changed Sabbath to Sunday

By Robert K. Sanders


The importance of this article is to show one of the main doctrines of Seventh-day Adventist Church is that the Pope of Rome changed the seventh day Sabbath to Sunday worship, and those that keep the Pope's Sabbath (Sunday) will receive the MARK OF THE BEAST, when a national Sunday law is enforced before the return of Christ.

Ellen G. White's (EGW) visions of seeing the Pope changing the Sabbath to Sunday. If the Pope indeed changed the Sabbath to Sunday, history should tell us the name of this Pope and the year it was changed.

The Catholic Church claims changing the Sabbath to Sunday but has never named the Pope that made the change.


Ellen White's Visions of the Pope Changing the Sabbath to Sunday

EGW: "I saw that God had not changed the Sabbath, for He never changes. But the Pope had changed it from the seventh to the first day of the week: for he was to change time and laws." A Word to the Little Flock, "A Vision, April 7, 1847", p. 18.

EGW: "In a view given June 27, 1850, My accompanying angel said, "Time is almost finished. ..."The Pope had changed the day of rest from the seventh to the first day of the week." Early Writings, "Mark of the Beast", p. 65.

Now if we can show that there is no record of any Pope changing the Sabbath to Sunday, what does that do with the vision of Ellen G. White who claims she saw the Pope making the change and those that worship on Sunday will receive the MARK OF THE BEAST?


The Catholic Church Claims Changing the Sabbath to Sunday

The Catholic Church has always recorded their church history which is found in the Vatican Library. They have never provided any documentation that the Pope of Rome ever changed the Sabbath to Sunday at anytime in history. Their claim has always been that the change was made by the church.

Church documents and Catechisms teach that it was their church that made the change, but they cannot provide documentation when this change took place.

The Catholic church adopted Sunday as a day of worship, and over time, it took on the characteristics of the Sabbath being a day of rest. The thought that God did not, and does not require any day for Christians does not even enter the mind of a Sabbatarian. The idea of no day being required is absurd in their mind, and is as such dismissed without honest examination. Sabbatarians resorts to black and white logic; an “either / or” thinking where no other possibilities are entertained as possible. They ignore the fact that the old covenant that included the Sabbath that God gave only to Israel ended at Calvary. They ignore the fact that Sabbath keeping command cannot be found in the new covenant.

This you should note: because the Catholic Church makes the claim of changing the Sabbath, does not make it so. For example their claim that their church goes back to the Apostolic Church and that Peter was the first Pope is only believed by their church. SDAs as well as other non Catholic Christians do not accept the Papal doctrine of the primacy of Peter or Papal infallibility.


The Convert's Catechism of Catholic Doctrine
By Rev. Peter Geiermann, C. SS. R.B., Herder Book Co., Saint Louis, Mo. 1946


Q. What is the Third Commandment?
A. The Third Commandment is: Remember that thou keep holy the Sabbath day.
Q. Which is the Sabbath day?
A. Saturday is the Sabbath day.
Q. Why do we observe Sunday instead of Saturday?
A. We observe Sunday instead of Saturday because the Catholic Church transferred the solemnity from Saturday to Sunday.
Q. Why did the Catholic Church substitute Sunday for Saturday?
A. The Church substituted Sunday for Saturday, because Christ rose from the dead on a Sunday and the Holy Ghost descended upon the Apostles on a Sunday.
Q. By what authority did the church substitute Sunday for Saturday?
A. The Church substituted Sunday for Saturday by the plenitude of that divine power which Jesus Christ bestowed upon her.
Q. What does the Third Commandment command?
A. The Third Commandment commands, us to sanctify Sunday as the Lord's Day.

Notice in the Convert's Catechism, 'by what authority did the church transferred the Sabbath to Sunday', and that it was 'the divine power which Jesus Christ bestowed upon her.' The Pope is not credited to making the change of Sabbath to Sunday.

I wrote to a Catholic apologist and asked the name of the Pope that changed the Sabbath to Sunday and the year this took place and here is his reply:

"If any Pope changed it, it would have had to been Peter because the Apostles worshipped on Sunday instead of Saturday. Acts 20:7 "And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight."


The Catholic Church specifically says that Sunday is NOT the Sabbath.

Section 2175 of the Catechism states: "Sunday is expressly distinguished from the sabbath which it follows chronologically every week". Sunday is the "Lord's Day", the first day of the week, and the day that Christ rose from the dead.


Ellen G. White's Vision of Those That Keep the Pope's Sabbath (Sunday) Will Receive the Mark of the Beast

When EGW uses the term 'I saw' she is wanting everyone to know she was a privileged person and God was having direct communication with her through visions.

EGW: I saw all that "would not receive the mark of the Beast, and of his Image, in their foreheads or in their hands," could not buy or sell.[ O REV. 13: 15--17.] I saw that the number (666) of the Image Beast was made up;[ P REV. 13: 18.] and that it was the Beast that changed the Sabbath, and the Image Beast had followed on after, and kept the Pope's, and not God's Sabbath. And all we were required to do, was to give up God's Sabbath, and keep the Pope's, and then we should have the mark of the Beast, and of his image. A Word to the Little Flock, page 19, paragraph 1, April 7, 1847.

In the above vision, EGW sees the 'number of the Image Beast already made up.' If the number 'of the image beast was made up' which EGW tells us is Protestants that follow the Pope's Sunday, was made up (completed) in 1847, how then can this be applied again to those living at the end of the world that receives the MARK OF THE BEAST? EGW used the term 'we' instead of they to denote the present time of her vision.

  • First of all, there never was a Pope that changed the Sabbath to Sunday.
  • Second, worshipping as a church on Sunday was never a "papal day." Early Christians in the first century were worshipping on Sunday long before the beginning of the Catholic Church and the Popes took upon themselves the doctrine of infallibility. These early Christians called Sunday "the Lord's Day."
  • Third, Christians that meet for worship on Sunday are not worshipping the Beast of Revelation, nor are they worshipping the sun god, but our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.


Adventist publications publish that Pope Sylvester changed the Sabbath to Sunday.

Rabanus Maurus (776-856), abbot of Fulda and later archbishop of Mainz, Germany, was rated one of the greatest theologians of his age and probably the most cultured man of his time, and exceptionally learned in patristics. Besides, he was a zealous defender of the papacy and its teachings. In one of his works, he says,

Pope Sylvester instructed the clergy to keep the feriae. And, indeed, from an old custom he called the first day [of the week] the "Lord's [day]," on which the light was made in the beginning and also the resurrection of Christ is celebrated.

Rabanus Maurus does not mean to say that Sylvester was the first man who referred to the days of the week as feriae or who first started the observance of Sunday among Christians. He means that, according to the testimony of Roman Catholic writers, Sylvester confirmed those practices (observance of Sunday) and made them official insofar as his church was concerned. Hence Rabanus says elsewhere in his writings:

But he [Sylvester] ordered [them] to call the Sabbath by the ancient term of the law, [to call] the first feria the "Lord's day," because on it the Lord rose [from the dead], Moreover, the same pope decreed that the rest of the Sabbath should be transferred rather to the Lord's day [Sunday], in order that on that day we should rest from worldly works for the praise of God. Sabbath and Sunday in Early Christianity, by Robert L. Odom, © 1977 by the Review and Herald Publishing Association (An Adventist publishing house), pages 247-248.

The above quote by Rabanus Maurus about Sylvester I, is suspect becasue the first day of the week was already called "the Lord's day" in the first century. Sylvester did not invent the term. Also how do we know the reliability of Rabanus Maurus and that he was not using forged or fake material? In any case it does not prove that he was not the pope/bishop to make the change as Maurus says that he "confirmed those practices and made them official". Very little is known about what really happened in the reign of Sylvester I.

The SDAs claims are based on second-hand information from Rabanus Maurus which are probably spurious documents.


From the Catholic Encyclopedia's article on Pope Sylvester

"This was the era of Constantine the Great, when the public position of the Church so greatly improved, a change which must certainly have been very noticeable at Rome; it is consequently to be regretted that there is so little authoritative information concerning Sylvester's pontificate. At an early date legend brings him into close relationship with the first Christian emperor, but in a way that is contrary to historical fact. These legends were introduced especially into the "Vita beati Sylvestri" (Duchesne, loc. cit., Introd., cix sq.) which appeared in the East and has been preserved in Greek, Syriac, and Latin in the "Constitutum Sylvestri"–an apocryphal account of an alleged Roman council which belongs to the Symmachian forgeries and appeared between 501 and 508, and also in the "Donatio Constantini". The accounts given in all these writings concerning the persecution of Sylvester, the healing and baptism of Constantine, the emperor's gift to the pope, the rights granted to the latter, and the council of 275 bishops at Rome, are entirely legendary."


In the article on Sunday from the Catholic Encyclopedia

"The Council of Elvira (300) decreed: "If anyone in the city neglects to come to church for three Sundays, let him be excommunicated for a short time so that he may be corrected" (xxi)."

So there we have a formal decree on Sunday from prior to Sylvester, although not a Roman or ecumenical council, but it establishes the formal nature of Sunday in the Christian world.


The same article mentions Tertullian

"We, however (just as tradition has taught us), on the day of the Lord's Resurrection ought to guard not only against kneeling, but every posture and office of solicitude, deferring even our businesses lest we give any place to the devil" ("De orat.", xxiii; cf. "Ad nation.", I, xiii; "Apolog.", xvi).


Tertullian establishes that Sunday was used for rest in the early 200's already

A Council of Laodicea, held toward the end of the fourth century, was content to prescribe that on the Lord's Day the faithful were to abstain from work as far as possible. At the beginning of the sixth century St. Caesarius, as we have seen, and others showed an inclination to apply the law of the Jewish Sabbath to the observance of the Christian Sunday. The Council held at Orleans in 538 reprobated this tendency as Jewish and non-Christian. So what Laodicea decided was nothing new. And what Rabanus Maurus reports of Sylvester corresponds to later developments, after some controversy about viewing Sunday in terms of a Sabbath.

There isn't even certainty that the council of Laodicea fell within the lifetime of Sylvester ... and Laodicea is also used by Adventists as the decree which changed the Sabbath to Sunday.

This is a second hand account by Rabanus Maurus, and probably based on legend derived from those forgeries made to promote the authority of the pope.

Sunday was well established as being kept as the Lord's Day is well-established by then - in both the Church Fathers and official gatherings of bishops. That it was used as a day of rest was established in Tertullian's time. That it replaced the Sabbath as a Sabbath-like concept was not formally accepted for several centuries to come.

If Sylvester DID simply confirm Sunday observance, it is meaningless in light of a well-established practice, as it would be nothing more than a mere mention, the way later councils and popes (such as JP2) confirmed it.

Seeing that the Jewish Sabbath ended with the old covenant how can a pope change the Sabbath into a Sunday Sabbath without a command from God? Transference and replacement theology is a methodology of deception and not truth.

For SDAs to prove Sylvester I changed the Sabbath to Sunday, you would have to go back in time and film the events or bring back documents for us to look at. You would need to quote Sylvester, not other people quoting later forged works, or you would need to show that the discussion you quote is not based on forged works ... and that Sylvester did more than just mention the day the way later popes/councils did, which in no way established the day as an official practice.

SDAs have offered money for a texts in the Bible that the Sabbath was changed to Sunday. They should be able to provide the proof to support their prophet's vision, that the Pope changing the day of worship from Sabbath to Sunday and the date.

I offer $100.00 to the first person that sends me the name of the Pope and the year he changed the Sabbath to Sunday with documented proof. I will be most happy to publish the Pope's name on Truth or Fables web site.


More information on Sabbath

Sabbath Not a Law for Christians: Explaining the Covenants

The Pope nor the Catholic Church Changed Sabbath to Sunday

The Seal of GodWhat Is It?

The Mark of The Beast—What Is It?

History and Overview About the Sabbath Day By Rob Chaffart

item1Sabbath in Christ—A new book, by former Adventist Pastor Dale Ratzlaff, that explains how Sabbath keepers have been misled. Be a Bible Berean and read this book. Thousands including Adventist pastors have left Adventism after getting their eyes opened. Order here.

Robert K. Sanders, Founder and Editor of Truth or Fables, 1997–2012
Life Assurance Ministries assumed ownership of Truth or Fables in 2012
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