Saturday (Saturn's day) was, next to the Lord's day, held by the ancient Christians in great veneration, and, especially in the Eastern parts, honored with all the public solemnities of religion. This observance of the day was, doubtless, out of respect to the feelings of the Jews, who were generally the first converts to the Christian faith, and who still retained great reverence for the Sabbath. The Western Church regarded it as a fast, but the Greek Church observed it as a festival, one Sabbath (Saturday) only excepted. This was called the Great Sabbath, between Good Friday and Easter day, when our Savior lay buried, upon which account it was kept as a fast throughout the whole Church. Athanasius (Hom. de Semente, tom. 1, p. 1060) tells us that they assembled on Saturdays — not that they were infected with Judaism, but only to worship Jesus Christ, the Lord of the Sabbath. So far as concerns public worship, Saturday was made in all things conformable to that of the Lord's day. The Scriptures were read, as on the Lord's day, sermons preached, and the communion administered. A preference, however, was given to the Lord's day, for there were no laws forbidding lawsuits, pleadings, public shows, and games on that day. Nor were men obliged to abstain wholly from bodily labor, but, on the contrary, the Council of Laodicea (August. Ep. 118) has a canon forbidding Christians to Judaize, or rest on the Sabbath, any further than was necessary for public worship. The reason for the Latin Church keeping Saturday as a fast is given by pope Innocent in his epistle to the bishop of Eugubium: "If we commemorate Christ"s resurrection not only at Easter, but every Lord"s day, and fast upon Friday because it was the day of his passion, we ought not to pass by Saturday, which is the middle time between the days of grief and joy." He therefore concludes that Saturday ought to be kept as a fast (Innocent. Ep. ad Decium Eugubin. c. 4). This was the general practice, and yet in Italy itself it was otherwise at Milan, where Saturday was a festival. The Saturdays in Ember weeks are called "in XII Lections," from the six Gospels read both in Latin and Greek. See Bingham, Antiq. of the Christ. Church, p. 1137 sq.; Riddle, Christ. Antiq. p. 652 sq.; Walcott, Sacred Archceol. s.v.

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