Why do Christians worship on the first day of the week
by Carole McDonnell
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Mar 19, 2006 4:15 am
Title: Study to Answer: Why do Christians worship on Sunday, the first day of the week?
Verse: Be fully persuaded in your own mind. Romans 14:5
In the fourteenth chapter of Romans, Paul states that some people esteem one day more highly than another; others consider all days alike. He does not take sides as to what day on which to worship but he asks his hearers to be fully persuaded in their own mind. The Christians of Paul’s day “broke bread daily in each other’s house” because no church had been built and they had been kicked out of the synagogue. They did not have any legalistic rule about when, where, and how many days a week a Christian should gather with other Christians in a specific building to worship. A Christian, after all, should keep all days holy.
If you read St Paul’s letter, you will notice that the congregations in each of the churches he wrote to had differing opinions about many doctrines and church rules. Paul, Peter, and James all spoke against divisiveness in their letters, stating that arguments about unimportant issues upset the faith of new Christians. In Paul’s opinion, “Real Christians” should not waste their time arguing about matters such as this.
In the twenty-second chapter of Matthew, various sects came to Jesus to ask him questions. These differing sects all considered themselves Jews. Every religion has sects. And each sect has a pet question. The Herodians had their questions. The legalistic scribes and Pharisees had theirs. The Sadducees – who don’t believe in angels, spirits, or the resurrection– had theirs. The Sadducees told a story about a woman who was married to seven brothers who all married her then died. To make matters more complicated, she had no children. They were like many sects whose after-death theology differs from that of the majority of Christians: they had a “what if?” scenario which did not deal with truly important issues but with some odd situation that was created to prop up their ideas. “So,” they ask Jesus, “in the resurrection, whose wife will she be?”
Jesus’ answer was: “You do greatly err, not knowing the power of God or the Scriptures. Besides, God is not the God of the dead but the God of the living because all are alive to Him.” He dismisses their question without answering it, then adds his own question which is one they had not thought of: Just who is the Messiah’s Father?
That is the important issue. It would have been stupid in the Early Church Age for people to create an entirely new congregation based on a question so unimportant as what day to worship. It is equally stupid now. The Lord is at hand. The harvest is white ready to harvest and tares have been thrown into the field. Christians have better things to do than to try to convert other Christians to their exact way of thinking about EVERYTHING.
But the question must be answered. Why do most Christians worship on Sunday? And why does Paul say that it really doesn't matter? (And I won't even go into the fact that the Seventh Day in one time zone might be the first day elsewhere or the sixth day somewhere else...depending on where on earth a worshiper is. Certainly, God is above all times and all zones. Does he want us to schedule our rest day by Israel's time-zone? Or does he expect us to shift zones when we travel?)
But why is the first day of the week important? What does it signify?
The answer is this: Christ, the new Adam, has brought a new creation, a new world and a new Sabbath which supersedes the one which the “old Adam” lost. As Jesus himself proclaimed when he was in the synagogue and reading from the book of Isaiah, God created a Jubilee for us. This Jubilee is the day of deliverance, the Day of the Lord, the Rest which we may enter in. Psalm 118 declares: The stones which the builders rejected is become the head cornerstone. This is the Lord’s doing and it is wonderful in our eyes. This is the Day that the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it. And this is what we do. We rejoice and are glad in that day.
Paul and the early church worshiped on “The Lord’s Day,” which was the first day of the week (Sunday is the first day of the week, Saturday is the seventh day.)
The early church worshiped on the first day for many reasons:
They were not allowed in the synagogue if they believed that Jesus was the Christ.
Jesus was raised on the first day of the week. That is why they called it The Lord’s Day.
The Holy Spirit came on the day of Pentecost, which was the day after the Sabbath. The old testament promise of the Jubilee fifty days after the high Passover was fulfilled when the Holy Spirit descended. Jesus was crucified and the Church, the new Bride, the truer Eve was born from Christ’s wounded side via the Holy Spirit on a day --seven times seven weeks plus one day– after the Sabbath Passover when Jesus was in the tomb.
Therefore God has blessed the Lord’s Day, the first day of the weeek --a Sunday in our words-- in many ways. Even going so far as to give his Revelation to John on the first day of the week. (Revelations chapter 1)
The worship on the Lord’s Day, the first day of the week, was so established in the early church that Paul told the churches to collect their tithes on the first day of the week, (1 Cor 16: 2).
But the most important aspect of The Lord’s Day is that it represents the arrival of God’s true rest. God’s true rest is mentioned several times in the Bible.
In Genesis, we are told that on the seventh day, God rested from his labor.
In Hebrews chapter four, the writer of the Book of Hebrews talks about entering the true rest of God. He uses verses from Psalm 95:11, Genesis 2:2, and Psalm 95,8 to discuss the true kingdom rest. He links the salvation of Jesus, bringing His people into the promised land, with the promise of True Rest.
Thus, the real rest is the rest created by Christ’s creation of the new day. It is no longer a legalistic enslavement to the law, but an entering into the true Rest and finished work and blessings of the New Day which the Lord has made.
Jesus has given us all things. By worshiping Him on this new Day, we acknowledge that He has made all things new...and that we have a new rest. Bodily rest, to be sure, was given to us. But a deeper rest. Those who enter into this True Rest which was prophesied know that through Jesus name, we are given physical healing, spiritual authority over demons, and eternal salvation because the authority and power of the Holy Spirit has been given to us in fullness.
As the last day of the week was blessed because God rested after he created earthly man, so the First day of the week is also blessed because of Jesus’s great “It is finished” when the new Adam created a new heavenly Creature, the sons of God.
If Paul, a Jew of the Early Church, could write letters to the Colossians and to the Romans stating that people are not legally bound to certain minor spiritual matters -- if he can begin resting and worshiping on the First Day-- then we modern Christians should not get so upset about particular days.
We should not argue over unimportant theology or semantics, since the apostles prohibit this. Arguments among Christians do not further the cause of Christ, especially when we it seems we get fixated on certain issues that are not important to salvation. But we should “study to answer” to know why we believe certain truths. Did Apollos save me? Or Paul? No, Jesus saved me. Did my denomination save me? Did believing certain unimportant truths save me? No. The main truth is the blood of Jesus. All other differing theologies are not important in the long run. Brothers and sisters, let us draw people to Christ, not to our denomination. 1 Cor 3:4-20
The apostles were faced with two holy days. They could worship on the seventh day, which was the Jewish Sabbath. Or they could worship on The first day of the week which was the day on which Jesus was raised from the dead, the day they called "The Lord's Day." Those who claim that we should worship on the Sabbath day are saying that the apostles were wrong to choose to worship on the First Day.
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I agree that Christians should not argue about what people call "the little things"; however, if Jesus rested over the Seventh Day Sabbath after His crucifixtion; then that is good enough for me. I also have researched how Sunday became the modern day "sabbath". It was enacted by Pope Constantine.(I've forgotten the date...have to look it up again-sorry)..thereby making it a man=made law. Also, the Sabbath is a way of honoring God as the CREATOR...HE rested at the end of his work. Evolution, of course, is trying to take away His authorship of creation, and the Pope has already taken away God's 7th Day Sabbath in preference of Sunday; ...but I do agree, everybody has their own opinions and researching into this subject. Bless you for taking Your message, and Your insight to the world through your writing. God Bless.
This is such a refreshing read! For someone, like me, that thinks "I have certainly heard all the arguments already!" I am delighted to find such a thorough pulling-together of all the Scriptural support for this topic. Sometimes expository writing can sound like the "same old stuff," but this gives new insights, for even those long acquainted with the Word, which I appreciate very much. Thank you! I have added this to my "favorites!"
A thought-provoking article. Those who believe there must be one day to "worship", do not have a clear understanding that Jesus is our "Jubilee", and HE is our "Rest." I agree with you. Why argue over these things?
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