Debunking the Myths- Saturday or Sunday? Part 1

02 August 2009

In a previous article we discovered the myth that Sabbath observance has been abolished does not match the testimony of Scripture.

In this series we will examine the question "Did the Sabbath Day Change to Sunday in the New Covenant?"  I know the opinion of some is "yes!" and the opinion of others is "no!"  Let's examine Scripture and see what it has to say on the matter:

The first verse of Scripture that uses the Hebrew word for Sabbath (shabbat) is found in Genesis 2:2-3.  This passage tells us that G-d sanctified the seventh day... what we know as Saturday.

The next reference to Sabbath is found in Exodus 16 where G-d declares the seventh day as the Sabbath.  Please note that this was prior to the giving of the ten commandments in Exodus 20.  Just as tithing pre-dates the Law so, too, does the Sabbath.

If we examine all the other reference to the Sabbath in the Tanakh they always refer to the seventh day.  There is no debate among students of Scripture that this is so.  Psalm is working on an exhaustive examination of this and plans to have it published 3Q 2009.

We know that Messiah Yeshua honored the seventh day Sabbath all of His life.  To do otherwise would have been sin and a violation of the Law.  We know that He was without sin (Hebrews 4:15) and never violated the Law.

There are a number of verses often used to support the idea that the Sabbath was changed to Sunday.  These are generally grouped into two categories:

  1. references to the apostles assembling on the first day of the week
  2. references to "the Lord's day" or "day of the Lord"

In part 1 of this series we will examine Scriptural references to "the first day of the week"

Resurrection day

Matthew 28, Mark 16, Luke 24, and John 20 all describe the day of Messiah's resurrection which is recorded as "the first day of the week".  No mention is made of the Sabbath or a change of G-d's sanctification of the seventh day of the week to the first day.  The apostles' gathering is not one of celebration of some New Covenant holy day but is rather a gathering resulting from fear and confusion (Luke 24:11) about their Master's reported resurrection.  Even a week after the resurrection when Thomas believes there is still fear (John 20:19).  No mention is made of a change in the holy day G-d had established 4,000 years earlier during the week of Creation and gave as a command 1,500 years earlier through Moses.

Acts 2

Acts chapter 2 relates the story of Pentecost and the giving of the Holy Spirit.  It should be noted that Jews (and all the disciples noted in Scripture at this point were Jews) had been already been gathering together and celebrating this particular Sunday since the giving of the Law at Mt. Sinai.  It was the feast of Shavuot as commanded in Scripture (Exodus 34:22, Numbers 28:26, Leviticus 23:15-16, Deuteronomy 16:10).  No mention is made in Scripture that this "first day of the week" was treated as anything special by the disciples beyond its observance as one of the annual festivals.

Acts 20

Here we find Paul and Luke traveling and meeting with a handful of disciples in Troas.  Acts 20:7 notes:

On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul began talking to them, intending to leave the next day, and he prolonged his message until midnight.

Again, no mention is made that this is anything other than the first day of the week.  No mention is made of Sabbath or of the holiness of that particular "first day of the week".  As far as "breaking bread", Acts 2:46 notes that the disciples were gathering together and  breaking bread daily.  There is nothing in this passage to indicate this Sunday or any other Sunday was something special to the growing community of believers.

1 Corinthians 16

In this chapter we find Paul encouraging believers to set aside some money on "the first day of the week".  No mention is made of believers gathering, worshipping, or studying Scripture… just a reminder to put aside a bit of money for later delivery to Jerusalem.  Does this single, simple reminder from Paul somehow overturn G-d's command  regarding the seventh-day Sabbath?  This passage does not leave us with that impression.

Summary of part 1

These are the only passages found in the whole of Scripture regarding the disciples gathering together on the "first day of the week" after Messiah was resurrected.  None of them provide any indication that the Sabbath day was changed or that the first day of the week was given any special significance in the lives of the early believers.

What about Scripture's mention of "the Lord's day"?  We will examine that in part 2 of this series.

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