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“The women who had come with Jesus from Galilee…went home and prepared spices and perfumes. But they rested on the Sabbath in obedience to the commandment” (Luke 23:55-56 NIV).We begin to get an idea about early Christian attitudes toward the Sabbath from the reports given by Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. There we learn that after His crucifixion Jesus was laid in a tomb without the customary preparation.
Because His followers observed the Sabbath, which for them began at sunset Friday. Their plan was to return to the tomb with spices and perfumes after the Sabbath day.

Apparently, Jesus had given no instruction to His followers about canceling the Sabbath or transferring its sacred nature to another day.

Here are some conservative dates for the writing of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

  • Matthew: 60-70 AD

  • Mark: 55-70 AD

  • Luke: 55-61 AD

  • John: 90 AD >

Some liberal scholars prefer much later dates.

While there is uncertainty over exactly when these gospel narratives were written, it is clear that at the time of their writing the Sabbath was still part of Christian practice.

None of these New Testament books contains even the slightest suggestion that the first day of the week—the day we call Sunday—had replaced the seventh day as the Christian Sabbath.

For a look at the Sabbath practice of St. Paul see Acts 13:14-16, Acts 13:42-44, and Acts 18:1-4, 11.

There are only eight references to the first day of the week in the New Testament, and none of them contains any evidence that the significance of the Sabbath was ever transferred from one day to another. (See Matthew 28:1; Mark 16:2, 9; Luke 24:1; John 20:1, 19; Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 16:2.)

This series of posts is based on research for “The Seventh Day” documentary, a five-hour miniseries hosted by Hal Holbrook. For more information please visit