The Sabbath and Eastern Orthodoxy

“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.” Ellen G. White,  A Word to the Little Flock, “A Vision, April 7, 1847”, p. 18.

“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.” Ellen G. White,  Early Writings, “Mark of the Beast”, p. 65.

It is a fact that Ellen G. White, the founder and prophetess of Seventh-day Adventism, taught that the Papacy (the Roman Catholic Church) changed the Sabbath by transferring its sanctity to the Sunday. Her book, The Great Controversy, has that theme as its central motif.

Not only did she teach these things, but she claims that God showed her this in vision.

The Eastern Orthodox Church existed for centuries before the ascendency of the Roman Catholic Church, and had authority over the Roman church in every aspect. In fact, the Roman Church was supported by the Eastern church during those early years, they sent them missionaries and deposed their bishops from time to time.The first seven Church councils were dominated by the Eastern churches, held in Greek (not Latin), and the Bishop of Rome did not even attend them all (such as the council of Nicea).

The Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia, under “Eastern Chuch”, has this entry: “This Church is the oldest in Christendom, and for several centuries she was the chief bearer of our religion.”

The Eastern Orthodox Church has historical records that date back to the first century, the time of the apostles. They claim that Sunday has been the only day of Christian worship since the resurrection. Read this from an Orthodox Bishop in America:

“The official name of our Church is ‘The Holy Orthodox-Catholic Apostolic Church.’ It was founded in the time of the apostles and by the twelve apostles, Jesus Christ Himself being the Chief Corner Stone, beginning on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2). Our Church has never been subject to the Roman Church or to the Latin Popes or to the Papacy. The Roman Church herself was a Greek mission for nearly three hundred years, and the Greek language was the tongue in which the Liturgy, or Mass, was said in the City of Rome.
“The first seven General Councils, beginning with Nicaea, AD. 325, on down to 787, which were the only General Councils acknowledged alike by Eastern and Western Christendom, were all held within the domain of the four ancient Eastern Patriarchates. They were dominated by the Holy Orthodox-Catholic Apostolic Church.
Even the Popes of Rome, as in the case of Pope Leo in the matter of the exaltation of the Patriarchate of Constantinople to an equality in temporal and spiritual powers, to Rome (vide Acts of the Fourth GeneralCouncil-Chalcedon), were compelled to assent, like all others, to the Decrees of the General Councils, which latter were always higher than Popes or Patriarchs.
“Rome never dominated any of the first seven General Councils; on the contrary, they dictated to her and in some cases, e. g., Pope Honorius, excommunicated and condemned Popes as heretics.
“Our Church, which includes all the very first Churches founded by the apostles, such as Jerusalem, Antioch, Ephesus, Corinth, Alexandria, and even Rome, for the first three hundred years, has kept the ‘first day of the week’ as a day of rest and in holy remembrance of the Resurrection of our Blessed Lord from the dead. From the dawn of Christianity she bears witness that it has been the Sacred Day on which the faithful assembled for the partaking of the Lord’s Supper, for the saying of public prayer, and the hearing of sermons.
“Our Holy Traditions, the Sub-Apostolic, Anti-Nicene and Sub-Nicene Fathers, as well as all of our historians, also bear testimony to this fact. Under the head of the Fourth Commandment in our Catechism, which is accepted by the whole Holy Orthodox Catholic Apostolic Church, this instruction is given. And both the Roman Church and all other Churches which regard the authority of antiquity, calling themselves Protestant, agree on this very fact, viz., that the Lord’s Day (the first day of the week) has been observed from the morning of the Resurrection till this moment. …” RAPHAEL HAWAWEENY, Bishop of Brooklyn, and Head of the Syrian Holy Orthodox-Catholic Apostolic Mission in America March 30, 1914
Question Number 10:
Is it the Orthodox view that Sabbath has been transferred to Sunday? What is the Orthodox view on Sabbath?
The Orthodox believe that Sabbath is Saturday (to this day, the Greek word for Saturday is pronounced ‘sabbado’ – as is the case in many other languages). Hence, Saturday is the old Sabbath and Sunday is the Lord’s Day or the Day of Resurrection. In the Orthodox tradition, Saturday always has the feastly character of the Jewish sabbath; it is never a strict fasting day. Moreover, it has always been the liturgical practice to serve Divine Liturgy both on Sabbath and the Lord’s Day, and this remains the case in Orthodox monasteries. However, Christians are not under the Law and they are not subjects of the Old Creation. The old Sabbath was the seal of the old creation, whereas Sunday is seal of the New Creation, the first or eighth day. For this reason, Gentile Christians have never been bound by Sabbatical laws on the old Sabbath. (Fr. Laurent,
The Longer Catechism of the Orthodox Church:

539. Since when do we keep the Day of the Resurrection?

From the very time of Christ’s resurrection.



One response to “The Sabbath and Eastern Orthodoxy

  1. As a former SDA for over 25 years, I am familiar with Ellen G. White and her many “prophecies.” You are correct that the Sabbath is a major part of the SDA Church. In fact, I would call it a “pillar” of the SDA Faith as a whole.

    The Apostle Paul preached to Jews and Gentiles alike on the Sabbath, according to various passages in the Epistles. In addition, he preached at other times as well.

    Of course, the pope and the Catholic Church are viewed as the “enemy” to the “remnant church” as the SDA’s call themselves. The pope is “The Beast” of Revelation.

    I have attempted to reach current and former SDA’s alike with many posts on Sabbath and Ellen G. White. However, she is so solidly part of SDA Theology, to discredit even her in an area as strong as the Sabbath, risks deflating Adventism as a whole.
    I like your article, well done!


Please let me know what you think! I learn from your comments.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s