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When is the Sabbath?

Various church leaders have taught about which day is the true sabbath. Follow the links below to see their statements:

James E. Talmage
Brigham Young
Joseph Fielding Smith

James E. Talmage on Sunday as the Sabbath

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints accepts Sunday as the Christian Sabbath and proclaims the sanctity of the day. We admit without argument that under the Mosaic law the seventh day of the week, Saturday, was designated and observed as the holy day, and that the change from Saturday to Sunday was a feature of the apostolic administration following the personal ministry of Jesus Christ. Greater than the question of this day or that in the week is the actuality of the weekly Sabbath, to be observed as a day of special and particular devotion to the service of the Lord. (AF:407)

The Church of Jesus Christ teaches that Sunday is the acceptable day for Sabbath observance, on the authority of direct revelation specifying the Lord's Day as such. In this, a new dispensation, and verily the last—the Dispensation of the Fulness of Times—the law of the Sabbath has been reaffirmed unto the Church. It is to be noted that the revelation [D&C 59th Section] . . . was given to the Church on a Sunday—August 7, 1831. (AF:409)

Brigham Young on When is the Sabbath

You take this book (the Doctrine and Covenants) and you will read here that the Saints are to meet together on the Sabbath day. It is what we call the first day of the week. No matter whether it is the Jewish Sabbath or not, I do not think there is anybody who can bring facts to prove which is the seventh day, or when Adam was put in the garden, or the day about which the Lord spoke to Moses. This matter is not very well known, so we call the day on which we rest and worship God the first day of the week. This people called Latter-day Saints, are required by the revelations that the Lord has given, to assemble themselves together on this day. In this commandment we are required to come together and repent of our sins and confess our sins and partake of the bread and of the wine, or water, in commemoration of the death and sufferings of our Lord and Savior. (At Paris, Idaho, Aug. 31, 1873, JD16:168) DBY:164

Joseph Fielding Smith on Saturday as the Sabbath

Question: "My neighbor . . . says that the true Sabbath which is Saturday and that man has no right to change it. He maintains that it was on the seventh day that the Lord rested from his labors when he created this earth, and this was established to be perpetuated through the ages, and the pope of Rome changed it to Sunday, and the Protestants have followed this to their condemnation. What answer do we have to this statement?"

Answer: The complete answer to these questions is found in the D&C, Section 59. This revelation was given on Sunday, August 7, 1831, in Jackson County, Missouri. In this revelation the Lord promised the members of the Church who sought inheritances in Missouri that he would abundantly bless them if they would covenant with him to keep his commandments. They would be crowned with blessings from above, "yea and with commandments not a few, and with revelations in their time--they that are faithful and diligent before me." After making this promise the Lord reiterated commandments from the Decalogue given on Sinai, and added this commandment concerning the Sabbath day:

'Thou shalt thank the Lord thy God in all things. Thou shalt offer a sacrifice unto the Lord thy God in righteousness, even that of a broken heart and a contrite spirit. And that thou mayest more fully keep thyself unspotted from the world, thou shalt go to the house of prayer and offer up thy sacraments upon my holy day; For verily this is a day appointed unto you to rest from your labors, and to pay thy devotions unto the Most High; Nevertheless thy vows shall be offered up in righteousness on all days and at all times; But remember that on this, the Lord's day, thou shalt offer thine oblations and thy sacraments unto the Most High, confessing thy sins unto thy brethren, and before the Lord. And on this day thou shalt do none other thing, only let thy food be prepared with singleness of heart that thy fasting may be perfect, or, in other words, that thy joy may be full."


After giving this commandment the Lord promised other blessings that would follow through obedience, and then added:

"And in nothing doth man offend God, or against none is his wrath kindled, save those who confess not his hand in all things, and obey not his commandments."

The Lord's day was, of course, Sunday, and on this day the Latter-day Saints have been commanded to observe the weekly Sabbath. So far as the Latter-day Saints are concerned, the Lord has spoken. This settles the question. Perhaps this is as far as we need to go in defense of our observance of the Sabbath day on the first day of the week, but it would not satisfy our correspondent if we stopped here. Moreover it will be of general interest to all members of the Church to have some additional discussion.

Those who believe that the Sabbath should be on Saturday have made a fetish of the Sabbath day. They have, like the Pharisees and Sadducees of old, measured man to the length of their procrustean bed and condemn all others who may be just as devout as they. They have forgotten, it seems, the counsel of our Lord:

"And he said unto them, The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath: Therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath." (Mark 2:27-28.)

Being the Lord of the Sabbath he had the divine right to change the day, and that is exactly what he has done.


In the first place there can be little relationship, in point of time, with the seventh day of creation and the seventh day according to temporal times. The former were days according to Kolob's reckoning. This we learn from the revelation given to Abraham.

". . . Now, I, Abraham, saw that it was after the Lord's time, which was after the time of Kolob; for as yet the Gods had not appointed unto Adam his reckoning." (Abraham 5:13)

No one knows whether a "temporal" time was given to Adam immediately after he was driven from Eden or not, or if it came gradually. No one knows, and no one without revelation from the Lord would know which day is the first and which is the last in our present reckoning. Moreover, it matters not which was the first or which the last day of the week before the flood. In our Bible as it has come down to us, there is little evidence that there was a Sabbath observance before the Lord spoke to Moses on Mount Sinai. Even if we concede that the Hebrew week and the Hebrew Sabbath correspond to the present reckoning, it does not follow that the Sabbath day now has to correspond to the Hebrew practice at the time of our Savior's ministry. Because of faulty measuring of time, days have been added to the calendar. Moreover, man has been under the necessity of arbitrarily setting the time for man's convenience in certain parts of the earth. Such an arbitrary dateline has been drawn through the Pacific at the 180th degree from pole to pole, so that we find islands relatively close together situated on each side of this line and therefore having their Sabbath on different days, while the same sunshine beams upon them.


There is evidence that the members of the Church following the resurrection of Jesus changed their Sabbath from the last to the first day of the week and that Christians have followed it ever since. It is universally conceded that our Savior was in the tomb during the Jewish Sabbath, and that he came forth on the early morning of the first day of the week. All four of the evangelists have written that it was early on the morning of the first day when Jesus appeared to some of his disciples, and in the evening of that same day, when they were gathered with the doors shut for fear of the Jews, he appeared again and permitted them to handle, or feel, the marks of the wounds in his hands, side, and feet. On this occasion he instructed them. It was eight days later, or on the first day of the week when he appeared again and gave them further instruction and chided Thomas for his unbelief. This would indicate that the Lord himself had changed the date of the Sabbath, and from that time forth it should be the first day of the week. It is true that there is not much said in the New Testament about the change of the Sabbath, but common things seldom get frequent mention. There are references, however, which point definitely to the fact that the time of the Sabbath had been changed to the Lord's day.

In the Book of Acts this is recorded:

"And upon the first day of the week when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight." (Acts 20:7)


It should be conceded that they did not break bread, or, in other words, administer the sacrament, except on the Sabbath day. It also seems to be significant that it was on the first day of the week that Paul counseled the Corinthian members of the Church that each should "lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come."4 Likewise that the Lord would give to John the great revelation on the Lord's day, or the first day of the week, saying: "I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and, What thou seest, write in a book." (Revelation 1: 11)

It is also recorded that Ignatius, a disciple of the Apostle John, said:

"Every lover of Christ celebrates the Lord's day, consecrated to the resurrection of Christ as the queen and chief of all days." (Samuel Walter Gamble, Sunday, the True Sabbath of God, p. 150.)

Dr. Adam Clark, in his Commentary treating Revelation 1: 10, says:

"'The Lord's day' the first day of the week, observed as the Christian sabbath, because on it Jesus Christ rose from the dead: therefore it was called the Lords day; and has taken place of the Jewish sabbath, throughout the Christian world."

Dr. Thomas Scott, in his Commentary dealing with this same verse, says:

"This was 'on the Lord's day' which can be meant of no other, than the day on which the Lord Jesus arose from the dead, even "the first day of the week": and it is conclusive proof, that the first day was set apart, and kept holy, by the primitive Christians, in commemoration of the great event: for on what other account could it have been thus mentioned!"

In the Commentary of Jameson, Fausett, and Brown on this same passage this is recorded:

". . . on the Lords day--Though forcibly detained from Church communion with the brethren in the sanctuary on the Lord's day, the weekly commemoration of the resurrection, John was holding spiritual communion with them. This is the earliest mention of the term 'the Lord's day!' But the consecration of the day to worship, almsgiving, and the Lord's supper, is implied, Acts 20:7; One- Corinthians 16:2, cf. John 20:19-26. The name corresponds to 'the Lord's supper,' One- Corinthians 11:20. Ignatius seems to allude to 'the Lord's day' (ad. Magnes, 9) and Irenaeus in the Quaest. ad Orthod. 115 (in Justin Martyr). Justin Martyr Apology 2:98 &c. 'On Sunday we hold our joint meeting; for the first day is that on which God, having removed darkness and chaos, made the world, and Jesus Christ our Saviour rose from the dead. On the day before Saturday they crucified Him, and on the day after Saturday, which is Sunday, having appeared to His apostles and disciples, he taught these things.' To the Lord's day Pliney doubtless refers (Ex 97, B 10), 'The Christians on a fixed day before dawn meet and sing a hymn to Christ as God.'"

 Answers to Gospel Questions, Vol.2, p.58-63

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