Sunday Worship History

Worshiping on Sunday did not begin with the advent of Christianity; it was a religious day of worship two thousand years before Jesus Christ.

Shortly after the flood of Noah, Nimrod and his mother-wife, Semiramis, founded the great pagan religions. From its beginning at the tower of Babel, sun worship spread through the entire ancient world.

History tells us that all religions, except the true religion of the God of the Bible, originated in Babylon. It is admitted by most Bible scholars and historians that the gods and goddesses of the ancient civilizations were all a part of the same religious belief system.

However, the names of the various deities were different because of the confusing of the languages at the tower of Babel (Gen.10 & 11). See also "The Two Babylons," by Alexander Hislop. This amazing book historically documents sun worship as the leading religion in all the ancient civilizations:

"Fire was worshiped as the enlightener and purifier. Now, it was thus at the very beginning; for Nimrod is singled out by the voice of antiquity as commencing the fire-worship" (The Two Babylons, Alexander Hislop, p.226).

All the pagan religions, with their many and varied gods and goddesses, worshiped the sun as their main deity. Moreover, sun worship is the direct worship of Satan the Devil under the symbolism of worshiping the sun. One of the names of Satan is Lucifer, which means "lightbringer." This was Satan's name before his rebellion against God (Isa.14: 12-14).


Fire-worship as one form of sun worship is actually Satan worship.

"The sun, as the great source of light and heat, was worshiped under the name of Baal; . . . the sun, under that name was worshiped in the earliest ages of the world. . ." (ibid. p.226).

"The beginning, then, of sun worship and of the worship of the host of heaven, was a sin against the light [of God and his Word], a presumptuous, heaven-daring sin" (ibid. p.226). 

Ancient Israel not only transgressed the Sabbath (Shabbat) of God (profaned and secularized it) when they worshiped Baal they also observed Sunday, because Baal worship is sun worship and Sun-day is the day when the sun is worshiped.

"Baal" is from the ancient Hebrew language and means "lord." Therefore, Sun-day is Baal's day, or the lord's day. But, that lord is not the Lord God of the Bible, rather, it is the lord Satan. Satan is called the god of this world (2.Cor.4:4), and is worshiped as god by those who have been deceived into believing his lies.


"Along with the sun, as the great fire-god, and in due time, identified with him, the serpent was worshiped. 'In mythology of the primitive world,' says Owen, 'the serpent is universally the symbol of the sun.' In Egypt, one of the commonest symbols of the sun, or sun-god, is a disc with a serpent around it.

"As the sun was the great enlightener of the physical world, so the serpent was held to have been the great enlightener of the spiritual, by giving to mankind the 'knowledge of good and evil' . . . at all events, we have evidence, both Scriptural and profane, for the fact that the worship of the serpent began side by side with the worship of fire and sun" (ibid. p.227).

From the very first chapters of the Bible, Satan is pictured as a serpent. And at the end, he is still pictured as a serpent. In Revelation 12:3, Satan is called "a great red dragon," which could also be translated 'a fiery dragon', 'fiery serpent', or 'serpent of fire.'

This historical background is essential to understanding that Sun worship was the dominant religion in all the ancient civilizations, and that it spread from "Mother Babylon" into all countries: India, China, Africa, Greece, Rome, Mexico, South America, Egypt, and Europe. Sun worship was a very prominent religion and Sunday was the main day of worship in the Roman empire by the time of Jesus Christ, just as it was in ancient Babylon:

"In pagan Rome, this fire-worship and serpent-worship were sometimes separate, sometimes conjoined; but both occupied a preeminent place in Roman esteem" (ibid. p.236).

"Now if this worship of the sacred serpent of the Sun, the great fire-god, was so universal in Rome, what symbol could more graphically portray the idolatrous power of pagan Imperial Rome than the 'Great Fiery Serpent?' No doubt it was to set forth this very thing that the Imperial standard itself—The standard of the pagan Emperor of Rome, as Pontifex Maximus— head of the great system of fire-worship, was the serpent elevated on a lofty pole, and so colored as to exhibit it as a recognized symbol of fire-worship" (ibid. p.238). 

The Babylonian sun worship system made the king or emperor the direct representative of the sun god. As such, he was the king-god or god-king. He was the only one in whom the highest level of the spirit of the sun-deity resided. This spirit was not the holy spirit of God, but the spirit of Satan the Devil. This is why the pagan emperors were worshiped as gods. The pure form of this kind of sun worship was transferred from Babylon to the city of Pergamos in Asia Minor after the death of Belshazzar.

In Revelation 2:12-13, Pergamos is called "Satan's seat," and was the headquarters of the original Babylonian sun worship until Imperial Rome began to take over the leadership. The relocation of "Satan's Seat" began in the person of Julius Caesar when, as emperor, he had supreme civil and religious rule:

"When Julius Caesar, who had previously been elected Pontifex Maximus, became also, as Emperor, the supreme civil ruler of the Romans, then as head of Roman religion, all the powers and functions of the true legitimate Babylonian Pontiff were supremely vested in him, and he found himself in a position to assert these powers" (ibid. p.241).

In the year 46 B.C., Julius Caesar was made "Praefectus Morum" (supervisor of morals), which means he was made the head of Roman religions. And in the year 44 B.C., he was made dictator for life (See Langer's Encyclopedia of World History).

It is essential to understand that from that time forward, the Emperor of Rome was also the head of the state religions. This did not change until Emperor Justinian, who reigned from 527-565 A.D., submitted to the head of the Roman Catholic Church. From that time forward, the Pope was acknowledged by the Emperor to be Pontifex Maximus over all religions. The Pope now had supreme authority in religious matters, and the Emperors had control of the political power of the state.


The names of the days of the Roman week are very revealing in understanding about Sun-day worship before it allegedly became a "Christian" institution. Sun-day, or the day of the Sun, was the main pagan day of worship. Although other pagan gods had days named after them, only "dies solis" (Latin for "day of the sun") was proclaimed to be holy:

"There is no question that the existence of the planetary week with its Sun-day ("dies solis") is crucial for determining any influence of sun worship on the [professing] Christian adoption of Sunday observance, inasmuch as the Sun before the existence of a weekly "Sun-day"was venerated every morning" (From Sabbath to Sunday, Samuele Bacchiocchi, 1977. p.237). 

The prominence of sun worship in the Roman Empire was attributed to two factors. First, it had been a part of the religious worship system of pagan Rome for a very long time. It was widespread, but not the official dominant religion." Next, the Eastern cult of sun worship, "Sol Invictus (Invincible Sun), through the cult of "Sol Invictus Mithra" and "Sol Elagabal," became the dominant religion of the Empire. Notice the "bal" at the end of the name; this signifies that it incorporated ba(a)l worship.

"Mithraism primarily was a private cult, though it numbered among its adherents magistrates and emperors. Sol Invictus Elagabal, on the other hand, was a popular cult with grandiose temples, and during the rule of the young Emperor Elagabalus (A.D. 218-222) was made the official cult of the whole empire" (ibid. p.241).

The "Day of the Sun" also had pre-eminence as a day of worshiping the sun. That the day of the Sun enjoyed pre-eminence already by the middle of the second century is clearly indicated by the famous astrologer Vettius Valens. In his Anthology composed between 154174 A.D., when explaining how to find the day of the week of any given birth date, he states, "And this is the sequence of the planetary stars in relation to the days of the week: Sun, Moon, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus, Saturn" (ibid. p.251).

"The 'dies solis' was evidently the most sacred [day] of the week for the faithful of Mithra and the gods have arranged the days of the week, whose names the Romans have dedicated to certain stars. The first day [of the week] they called the day of the Sun because it is the ruler of all the stars" (ibid. p.250, footnote 53).

The foregoing shows that, in pagan Roman times (before, during, and after the coming of Jesus Christ), Sun-day was the most prominent day of worship in the Roman Empire. Most of the Christian religions today wrongly assume that this pagan day of worship is holy.

There were many forces and factors involved in the disintegration and abandonment of God's Sabbath. However, the major factor was that of hate. Even today, the majority of Christendom holds the Sabbath in disdain.

Hate is the opposite of love. God is love and his way is a way of love! Everything in God's Word is based on love: love towards God, as expressed by the first four commandments, and love towards neighbor, as expressed by the last six commandments. Jesus made it absolutely clear that all the law and the prophets hang on the two principles of "loving God" and "loving neighbor" (Matt.22:37-40).

Hatred is a powerful tool that Satan has used to divide and conquer. It is natural for the human mind to hate, and especially to hate God and his way: "If the world hates you, you know that it hated me before it hated you" (Jn.15:18 Para.). 

The Jewish Problem

Long before Jesus Christ was born, the Jews despised the Gentiles (non-Jews). This attitude of hatred towards the Gentiles was particularly heightened during the days of Antiochus Epiphanes when he determined to convert every Jew into a pagan Greek or exterminate the entire nation in the process.

In order to prevent Jews from being assimilated into other races, which would result in having their religion and nation destroyed, the Jewish religious and civil leaders created a closed Jewish society. This was accomplished by legislating many laws which forbade contact with Gentiles. They could not even keep company with anyone who was not a Jew or a Jewish proselyte. This problem carried over into the early New Testament Church when God began calling Gentiles to salvation (Acts 10 & 11; Galatians 1 & 2). Such extremes bred more and more hatred: Gentile toward Jew and Jew toward Gentile.

At times the Romans were amiable toward and tolerant of the Jewish religion, and they even recognized Judaism as a legitimate religion. The Roman Empire even passed laws that forbade discrimination against Jews and the Jewish religion. But this tolerance did not last very long.

Romans, Jews, And The Sabbath

"Some Romans had not only recognized Judaism as a 'religio lecita' but had also shown it great respect and some, even admiration for the religious principles of the Jews. But this admiration came to an end about 66 A.D., when the Romans drastically changed their attitude toward the Jews and began to persecute them, both militarily and fiscally.

"Besides military measures, Rome adopted new political and fiscal policies against the Jews. Under Vespasian (A.D. 69-79), both the Sanhedrin and the office of the High Priest were abolished, and worship at the temple site was forbidden.

"Hadrian (A.D. 117-138) . . . went so far as to prohibit any Jew, under the threat of death, to enter the area of the new city [of Jerusalem]. Moreover, he outlawed the practice of the Jewish religion and particularly the observance of the Sabbath" (From Sabbath to Sunday, Samuele Bacchiocchi. p.171).

The hatred of the Jews by the Romans heightened in intensity and bitterness. Even Roman writers began to openly attack all the practices of the Jews.

"Quintilian (ca. A.D. 35-100) alludes to Moses as the founder of the Jewish superstition which is pernicious to other people. Similarly for Martial (ca. A.D. 40-104), the circumcised Jews and their Sabbath are a synonym of degradation. 

"Plutarch (ca. A.D. 46-119) labeled the Jews as a superstitious nation and singled out their Sabbath-keeping (which he regarded as a time of drunkenness) [the same] as one of the many barbarian customs adopted by the Greeks.

"Juvenal, in a satire written about A.D.125, pitied the corrupting influence of a Judaizing father who taught his son to eschew the uncircumcised and to spend 'each seventh day in idleness, taking no part in the duties of life.'

"Tacitus (ca. A.D. 55-120), whom Jules Isaac labels as 'the most beautiful jewel in the crown of anti-Semitism,' surpassed all his predecessors in bitterness. The Jews according to this historian, descend from lepers expelled from Egypt and abstain from pork in remembrance of their leprosy (a disease which, according to prevailing beliefs, was common among pigs). Their indolence on the Sabbath commemorates the day they left Egypt.

"All their customs, Tacitus writes, 'are perverse and disgusting,' and as a people they are 'singularly prone to lust'" (ibid. p.176).

After Judea was conquered by the Romans, there was always some kind of revolt or sedition taking place that was proclaimed as a means of ridding the Jews of Gentile domination. The result was a general hatred in the Roman world toward the Sabbath, because the Jews, who were constantly revolting, held the Sabbath holy.

Into this atmosphere of hatred and vengeance, Christianity was born! The early Christians suffered much because they admittedly worshiped the same God and observed the same Sabbath and annual festival days as the Jews.

By B.L. Cocherell     b5w7