Sunday and Eusebius — a supposed quotation?

By accident today I came across a supposed quotation of Eusebius, used in a negative way.

Eusebius, in AD 324, wrote, “We have transferred the duties of the Sabbath to Sunday.” Who are the “we”? Certainly not the apostles. They could not do so after the testament was ratified by the death of the Testator on the cross. When Eusebius says, “We have transferred the duties of the Sabbath to Sunday,” it reminds us again of what Paul foretold about those who, after his death, would speak “perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.” (Acts 20:30.) This last quotation from these early Fathers is dated AD 324. [1]

I always want to see a reference when I hear something like this.  Walker doesn’t provide one, and a search for the phrase brings up only copies of his book.  I’m not sure what group he wrote for, in truth.

The most accessible work by Eusebius has always been the Church History, so it’s probably in there.  But a search through the ANF version, online, in all 10 books for “sabbath”, brings up no such words.

  1. [1] Allen Walker, The law and the sabbath (1953), p.98-9.  Google books preview of reprint here.

12 Responses to “Sunday and Eusebius — a supposed quotation?”


  1. KP

    Quick guess Eusebius Church History where he discusses the Easter dating contorversy…I’ll have a look later

  2. KP

    Quick google:

    EUSEBIUS: “They did not, therefore, regard circumcision, nor observe the Sabbath neither do we; … because such things as these do not belong to Christians” (Ecc. Hist., Book 1, Ch. 4)

    EUSEBIUS: [The Ebionites] were accustomed to observe the Sabbath and other Jewish customs but on the Lord’s days to celebrate the same practices as we in remembrance of the resurrection of the Savior. (Church History Ill.xxvii.5)

    Eusebius of Caesarea “They [the pre- Mosaic saints of the Old Testament] did not care about circumcision of the body, neither do we [Christians]. They did not care about observing Sabbaths, nor do we. They did not avoid certain kinds of food, neither did they regard the other distinctions which Moses first delivered to their posterity to be observed as symbols; nor do Christians of the present day do such things” (Church History 1:4:8).

    Eusebius of Caesarea “The day of his [Christ's] light . . . was the day of his resurrection from the dead, which they say, as being the one and only truly holy day and the Lord’s day, is better than any number of days as we ordinarily understand them, and better than the days set apart by the Mosaic Law for feasts, new moons, and Sabbaths, which the Apostle [Paul] teaches are the shadow of days and not days in reality” (Proof of the Gospel 4:16:186).

    This may be helpful too(haven’t read)

  3. Roger Pearse

    Useful – thanks – but none of these look very like our quotation, do they?

  4. Dave

    From a TLG search, apparently the Commentaria in Psalmos (PG 23: 1172): καὶ πάντα δὴ ὅσα ἄλλα ἐχρῆν ἐν Σαββάτῳ τελεῖν, ταῦτα ἡμεῖς ἐν τῇ Κυριακῇ μετατεθείκαμεν

  5. Roger Pearse

    Good idea to look in the TLG. I don’t have much Greek — anyone care to construe this?

  6. Dave

    Sorry, Roger: quick translation: ‘and so all the other things that one must observe on the Sabbath, these things we have transposed to the Lord’s Day’

  7. Roger Pearse

    Thank you very much! Yes, this must be it.

    My parents intended me for a science career, and sadly Greek didn’t feature as part of preparation for a Chemistry degree; I’m lucky to have Latin, although I can do a bit of Greek with a lexicon.

  8. Maureen

    That’s a bit ridiculous, to use Eusebius’ quote that way. The Apostles were together on the Lord’s Day, when they learned of the Resurrection, and they seem to have always been together on the Lord’s Day from then on. If the most important thing that ever happened in the history of ever happens to you on the same day as the First Day of Creation, and indeed on the Eighth Day, which was significant in Jewish festivals, why wouldn’t the 1st/8th day become the most significant one to you?

    The Eighth Day was already connected to the promise of the Messiah, to The Day when the Lord would come in glory. The Apostles found themselves living inside those prophecies. They did what seemed natural. You might criticize later Christians for letting the Sabbath observation fade away into Saturday fasting or the like, but it’s not a matter of discontinuity. Christians were living with the sign they were given.

    The Sabbath probably faded because there were so many Gentile Christians, who weren’t obliged to observe it anymore than they had to get circumcised. All they had to do was: “….abstain from things sacrificed to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication.”

  9. Roger Pearse

    It would be nice to get a bit more context on the quote from the Commentary on the Psalms.

  10. KP

    Check the last link I gave you above – it discusses Eusebius and Sunday with reference to the Commentary on the Psalms although not this quote directly I think (I’ve only skimmed it just now). It’s a start. And one would need to look at totality of what E wrote on Sabbath/Sunday anyway to ascertain his view.

  11. Jas

    Maureen
    Actually no where does it state the resurrection was on the Lords day,1st day or Sunday. Actually in Eusebius of Caesarea: Gospel Problems and Solutions the Greek never even mentions a day but does state it was upon One of Sabbaths,Yes plural and was reference to the first week in the count to pentecost. Eusebius in this letter even rejects the wording of Mark by putting a comma between And having risen up early and on one of Sabbaths he appeared to Mary Magdalene to uphold Matthews “Late on the
    sabbath the savior was raised”.
    So if Eusebius wrote ‘and so all the other things that one must observe on the Sabbath, these things we have transposed to the Lord’s Day’ it was done so under duress

  12. Jas

    Commentary on the Psalms.
    Nowhere in this commentary does it mention Sunday. But it does mention “through the New
    Covenant, has changed and transferred the feast of the sabbath to
    the rising of the light and handed to us the image (eikon) of a true
    rest, the Lord’s Day.
    Considering the jewish Sabbath began at sunset but Jesus rose at first light I see Eusebius saying the feast of the Sabbath was transfered to the morning instead of evening as the jews did. He is not stating Sunday was the resurrection but is saying early on the Sabbath as dawn of first light equating it to the first day of light in creation account



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