why constantine changed the sabbath

Why Constantine Changed the Sabbath and What It Meant for Christianity

Historic sources tell us that Emperor Constantine of Rome was a pagan. He worshipped Apollo or the Sun.

“He was pleased to be represented with the symbols of the god of light and poetry.”

Thus it did not take long until he issued a decree on March the 7th, in A.D 321 declaring that “all the judges and town people, and the occupation of all trades, rest on the venerable day of the sun…”, but why he took this decision and what it meant for Christianity?

Was this first Sunday law the beginning of the changing of the Sabbath, the fourth commandment of God, from the seventh day to the first day of the week?

In this post, we analyze why Emperor Constantine changed the Sabbath and what it means today for Christianity! 

Did Constantine Change the Sabbath from Saturday to Sunday?

“​For three hundred years of church history, the rulers of the Roman empire have been pagans. In the early part of the fourth century there came a change; Constantine the Great, so-called, professed the Christian religion. 

Before this, because of persecution, the church had maintained some degree of purity, though many practices had been adopted for which there was no warrant in Scripture. But from this time on, most rapid changes were seen. 

To obtain favor with the emperor, with their own profit in view, vast multitudes of pagans embraced the Christian religion nominally, though at heart they remained unchanged. All Protestants admit that the age of Constantine and the one immediately succeeding were periods of great corruption

From this time forward the progress was most rapid, till it finally culminated in the full development of the Roman Catholic Church. We shall see that during this very time, the most rapid advance of the Sunday institution also occurs.”

The Change of the Sabbath | Butler, George Ide

When did Constantine change the Sabbath? 

In the year A.D. 321, Constantine issued the following edict: 

“Let all the judges and town people, and the occupation of all trades, rest on the venerable day of the sun. But let those who are situated in the country, freely and at full liberty attend to the business of agriculture; because it often happens that no other day is so fit for sowing corn and planting vines. Lest, the critical moment being let slip, men should lose the commodities granted by Heaven.” 

The Change of the Sabbath, p.113.2 (George Ide Butler).

Why did Constantine change the Sabbath to Sunday?

It was the first Emperor to profess belief in Christianity! It was during a crusade against his enemies that he was supposedly converted to Christianity

Sympathetic biographers claim that before a climactic battle near Rome, Constantine saw a vision of a flaming cross in the sky!

why did Constantine changed the Sababth

He then credited this vision with his subsequent victory and declared himself to be a Christian!

But historians debate whether Constantine’s conversion was genuine since he maintained his pagan superstitions throughout much of his reign! 

He consented to baptism only as he lay on his deathbed!

Still, his reign marked a dramatic turning point in the history of Christianity!  

Constantine’s Personal Religion 

when did Constantine change the Sabbath

It seems his religion was a mixture of Mithraic Sun Worship and Christianity!

According to his Christian biographer, Eusebius, he taught all his armies to zealously honour the “Lord’s Day – Sunday”. 

He was referring to it (Sunday) as the day of light and of the Sun – distinctly pagan terminology! 

The Union of Church and State

“It is conceded by all that Constantine was the first to attempt to unite the Christian religion with the ” body politic;” it is a fact of history that by him was laid the foundation for all the ecclesiastical usurpations of the Roman Papal system, and that his patronage of the church has been a curse to the cause of Christianity, the influence of which is felt even to the present time.” 

 American Sentinel | Oakland, California, March 1887

“Constantine likewise enacted a law favoring the clergy, permitting judgment to be passed by the bishops when litigants preferred appealing to them rather than to the secular courts; he enacted that their decree should be valid, and as far superior to that of other judges as if pronounced by the emperor himself; that the governor and military officers should see to the execution of these decrees; and ‘that sentence, when passed by them, should be irreversible.”

Sozomen, Ecclesiastical History


In summary, Constantine changed the Sabbath to Sunday because of his mixture of pagan beliefs & his questionable “conversion” to Christianity! 

Not only that, but he also seemed to have had political agendas in this promotion of Sunday rest or Sunday law! 

Because the Roman Empire was filled with both pagans and Christians, there is no wonder that in this attempt he wanted to unite the vast Roman Empire

His edict paved the way for another corrupt power, later on, to apply this change to the Christian Sabbath – the Church of Rome! (see the Council of Laodicea – A.D 363).

Unfortunately, the influence of these events is felt today more than ever with the majority of Christians believing that Sunday is the Sabbath! 

Yet, there is not a single verse in the entire Bible to support this change! The seventh day or Saturday is the Sabbath of the Lord and will always be! (Exodus 20:8-11)


https://m.egwwritings.org/en/book/1089.608 – The Change of the Sabbath | Butler, George Ide

https://documents.adventistarchives.org/Periodicals/AmSn/AmSn18870301-V02-03.pdf – American Sentinel | Oakland, California, March 1887

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ZIHwsEyrMI – Constantine and the Pagan Sun-Day 

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