In Revelation 1:10, John wrote, “I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day . . .” Sabbatarians tell us that the Lord’s day is the seventh day of the week and teach that the early church worshiped on the Sabbath day. They further charge that either the pope or Constantine changed the day of worship of the New Testament church, and that those of us who worship on the first day of the week have departed from New Testament Christianity. Nevertheless, what saith the scripture (Gal 4:30).
The observance of the Sabbath day was instituted shortly after God led Israel out of Egyptian bondage. The commandment to “remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy” was given to the nation Israel, in conjunction with 613 individual commandments, including the Ten Commandments (Ex. 20 f; Deut. 5). God specifically stipulated how the Sabbath was to be observed. Here are some of the ordinances required for proper observance of the Sabbath day, according to the Mosaical law: (1) do no work (Ex. 31:15); (2) kindle no fire (Ex. 35:3); (3) gather no sticks (Num. 15:32); (4) offer burnt offerings (Num. 28:9-10); (5) buy no goods (Neh. 10:31; 28:9-10); (6) bear no burden (Jer. 17:21); (7) prepare shewbread (1 Chron. 9:32); (8) stay in one’s place (Ex. 16:29; Acts 1:12). Anyone who disobeyed these commandments was to be punished by being put to death (Ex. 31:14; Num. 15:32-36).
Though many religious people say that they observe the Sabbath day, I have never yet met anyone who observed it according to the Scriptures. No one turns off their electricity on the Sabbath.Who eats their meals without heating it first? Though they prepare it a day before, they warm it or cool it by the use of electricity or gas. Electricity is a fire! Gas produces a fire! Most all travel in automobiles on the Sabbath, which again is a combustion engine_a fire! Those who walk to church usually walk more than what is allowed by Mosaical law. The distance of 2,000 cubits, or less than half-a-mile, is the distance to which, according to Jewish tradition, was allowable for one to travel on the Sabbath day without violating the law (Acts 1:12 ff; Ex. 16:29; Num. 35:5; Josh. 3:4). Though they might do no work and buy no goods, I know of no Sabbatarian who prepares shewbread and offers burnt offerings on the Sabbath day as the Mosaical law requires. Neither have I ever met the man who believes that all those who do not observe the Sabbath day should be put to death. Even those who believe in worshiping on the Sabbath day do not believe in observing it as the Bible dictates. Yet, the scripture tells us that all who keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all (Jam 2:10).
When the law of Christ was given, the Mosaical law was abolished (Heb. 8:13; 7:12; Eph. 2:14-16; etc.). Consequently, Paul could write, “And when you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us and which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him. Therefore let no one act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day-things which are a mere shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ” (Col. 2:13-17). Therefore, Sabbath observance was abolished when the rest of the ordinances of the Mosaical law were abolished. It wasn’t the Pope or Constantine who abolished the Sabbath, it was Jesus Christ himself!
First Day Established
The first day of the week is the Lord’s day. It is the only day in the week which can properly be called the “Lord’s day.” On the first day of the week, Jesus arose from the dead (Mk. 16:1-9). On that day, he appeared to Mary Magdalene (Mk. 16:9); to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus (Lk. 24:13-35); to the apostles with Thomas absent (Jn. 20:19-25?; to the apostles with Thomas present (Jn. 20:26-?9); etc. Inasmuch as Pentecost always fell on the first day of the week (Lev. 23:15), these important events with reference to the early church occurred on the first day of the week: the coming of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:1-4), the first gospel sermon and the obedience of three thousand whom the Lord added to the church (Acts 2:37-47). Hence, the first day of week was an important day for the early church.
The early church met habitually on the first day of the week to worship the Lord. Paul wrote, “But in giving this instruction, I do not praise you, because you come together not for the better but for the worse . . . . Therefore when you meet together, it is not to eat the Lord’s supper” (1 Cor. 11:17, 20). Notice that these passages show that the church customarily assembled. The instructions in 1 Cor. 14 presuppose an assembly of the church. Heb. 10:25 says (“not forsaking our own assembling together”) which shows that the early church customarily assembled together for worship. This assembly occurred on the first day of the week is evident from the Scriptures as well. In 1 Cor. 16:1-2, Paul wrote, “Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I directed the churches of Galatia, so do you also. On the first day of the every week let each one of you put aside and save, as he may prosper, that no collections be made when I come.” The instructions were given to a number of churches; these were not limited to Corinth. The instructions enjoined were to be observed on the first day of every week. The instructions are not “come together to give” but “give while you are come together.” Therefore, this passage is conclusive evidence that the early church worshiped on Sunday, the first day of the week, which day came to be known as the Lord’s day.
Furthermore, Acts 20:7 shows that the early church worshiped regularly on the first day of the week. Paul was on his way to Jerusalem on an urgent trip to take funds gathered for benevolent purposes for the saints in Jerusalem. However, he wanted to worship with the saints at Troas. Apparently, he arrived on Monday for he tarried seven days (Acts 20:6) to await the assembling of the saints. The Scriptures say, “And on the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul began talking to them, intending to depart the next day, and he prolonged his message until midnight.” Notice, that Paul expected the church to assemble on the first day of the week and, for that reason, waited seven days to meet with them. The early church usually met on that day to “break bread,” to observe the Lord’s supper. Therefore, this passage further confirms that the early church regularly worshiped on the first day of the week.
Conclusion: Why does the Lord’s church worship on the first day of the week? Because the Scriptures authorize it! Therefore, the first day of the week is the day of worship of the New Testament church. On that day, Christians worshiped according to the divine pattern provided by Jesus and His apostles. Do you observe each first day of the week, the Lord’s day? It is the only day set aside to remember the Lord’s death (1 Cor 11:24-26). Or are you still remembering God delivering your fathers from Egyptian slavery?