Have you ever wondered why most churches observe Sunday rather than God's Sabbath? The reasons they give may surprise you! A certain group representing many Christian denominations has made up and published a list of "10 reasons we worship on Sunday." One of our readers of the Good News of the World To morrow magazine wants to know if these 10 reasons are valid. That's a good question. Does the observance of Sunday by most churches have any solid scriptural basis? Let's look at the "10 reasons" given and see.
Their 10 reasons
I) It was on Sunday that Jesus rose from the dead (John 20:1). Not according to the verse referred to. As a matter of fact, not a single scripture anywhere in the Bible says Jesus rose from the dead on Sunday, as startling as that may be! A careful reading of John 20:1, as well as of parallel verses in the accounts in Matthew, Mark and Luke, shows that on the morning of the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Jesus was already risen. Of course! Jesus Himself foretold He would be in His tomb three days and three nights (Matthew 12:40). Since He was buried in the early evening (Matthew 27:57-60), in order for His words not to fail, Jesus would also have to be resurrected in the early evening, three 24-hour periods after He was put in the tomb. Certainly His resurrection could not have occurred on Sunday morning. Jesus' resurrection had to take place in the early evening — but which evening? The plain truth of the Bible is explained in our free booklet The Resurrection Was Not on Sunday. A copy will be sent to you upon request. Prepare yourself for some shocks — this astounding booklet contains several! 2) On the first day of the week Jesus appeared to a group of His disciples (John 20:19). He surely did. After all, this was the first full daylight period after His resurrection. But is John 20:19 meant to show when Christians from then on are supposed to assemble for worship? If so, then why don't the churches of the world follow it? They don't, you know. Most churches traditionally gather for worship on Sunday morning. John 20:19 shows the disciples gathered together in the evening — not on the morning — of the first day. The fact is, the disciples weren't even gathered expressly for the purpose of worship. If this were their weekly worship service, why wasn't Thomas there with them (verse 24)? The Bible, if we will read it carefully, states the reason for their gathering. The disciples, on this first day of the week, were assembled together behind locked doors "for fear of the Jews." This verse gives no indication whatsoever that a religious service was being held. 3) After one week, Jesus appeared to a group of His disciples on the first day of the next week (John 20:26). The reasoning here is not clear. The verse referred to states that "after eight days" the disciples were gathered together and Jesus appeared to them. Count it. One day after today is tomorrow. Eight days after Sunday is Monday, not Sunday. Rather than showing Christians are to regularly assemble for worship on Sunday, this verse, if it were meant to show anything at all about the subject, would indicate Christians should assemble every Monday! Obviously that is not the intent. 4) The Holy Spirit was sent as promised on the first day of the week — on the day of Pentecost (Leviticus 23:16). The momentous coming of the Holy Spirit is described in Acts 2. On the day it occurred, the disciples and multitudes of Jews were assembled in Jerusalem. What was the occasion? Was it to celebrate that it was the first day of the week? No! As verse 1 shows, they were all — Jews and Christians alike — celebrating one of God's annual festivals, the one called Pentecost in Greek. This was one of the Holy Days God gave through Moses. Pentecost and the other Holy Days are listed in Leviticus 23. The world thinks of them as being "Jewish," as it does the weekly Sabbath, yet Acts 2 reveals early New Testament Christians observing them. (Other New Testament verses clearly demonstrate that true Christians are to keep all the annual festivals of God, as our free booklet Pagan Holidays — or God's Holy Days — Which? proves. Why not write for a copy? There is no obligation.) It happened that the annual Holy Day called Pentecost in Acts 2 fell on the first day of the week. It always fell — and still does fall -on the first day of the week once a year. It did so in Moses' time, as Leviticus 23:16 confirms. But did that mean the Israelites were to assemble for weekly worship on the first day of every week instead of the Sabbath, the seventh day of the week? No, of course not (Leviticus 23:3). Faithful Israelites under Moses, like the early Christians, kept Pentecost once a year on the first day of the week, as God ordained, and kept the Sabbath weekly on the seventh day, as God ordained. 5) The apostle Peter on that same first day of the week preached the first sermon on the death and resurrection of Jesus (Acts 2:14). As explained in point No. 4, the importance of the occasion was not that it was the first day of the week, but that it was Pentecost, one of God's annual Holy Days. 6) The ceremony of Christian baptism was administered for the first time on that same first day of the week (Acts 2:41). Same comment as for point No. 5 above. 7) Christians assembled for worship at Troas on the first day of the week (Acts 20:6-7). Notice, in passing, that verse 6 gives further evidence that early true New Testament Christians kept God's Holy Days. Why else would the apostle Paul and companions stay in Philippi until "after the Days of Unleavened Bread"? Surely no one would dismiss this evidence as being "circumstantial" and at the same time claim validity for any of these "10 reasons" we are examining! Moving on to verse 7, here again, if this verse is meant to indicate when Christians should regularly assemble for worship, why don't the churches of the world follow it? Why do they traditionally gather together for worship in the morning, when this verse clearly shows an evening gathering? The fact is that this verse doesn't describe a gathering for the purpose of weekly worship at all. The Christians came together, the Bible plainly says, "to break bread" — to eat a common meal together. When you get right down to it, though, it is not wrong for Christians to come together to worship God any time of any day of the week — as long as doing so is in addition to worshiping together on God's weekly Sabbath, as God commands. 8) Paul preached to the assembled Christians at Troas on the first day of the week (Acts 20:6-7). Same comment as for point No. 7 above. 9) Christians at Corinth were instructed to make contributions on the first day of the week (I Corinthians 16:2). But notice that this was not to happen after Paul arrived on the scene (latter half of the verse). Why not, if Paul was merely talking about putting money in an offering plate that was passed during services? Because this verse is not referring to that at all. There is nothing in this verse about assembling together for worship. The subject of I Corinthians 16:1-3 is the collection for the poor saints at Jerusalem (see also Romans15:25-28). Foodstuffs and other items had to be gathered together on the first day of the week — a workday! — so that when Paul arrived, the work would already be done. 10) On the isle of Patmos Jesus appeared to the apostle John and gave him the Revelation on the first day of the week ( Revelation 1:10). Here is a classic example of reading something into a verse of Scripture. Revelation 1:10 says nothing about the "first day of the week." It simply mentions "the Lord's Day." If indeed it were speaking of a particular day of the week, which day is the "Lord's Day"? Jesus gave the answer in Mark 2:28: Jesus is "Lord of the Sabbath." That is His day the true "Lord's Day"! As far as Revelation 1:1 0 is concerned, though, the subject is not a day of the week but rather the time of God's intervention in world affairs, called in many Bible prophecies the "Day of the Lord."
No justification for observing Sunday
So there you have it — the 10 presumably best (if there are other reasons, why wouldn't they also be given?), most convincing, most conclusive, most persuasive, "biblical" reasons for the traditional Christian observance of Sunday. No wonder not even the Catholic Church, with the vast theological resources at its disposal, attempts to justify Sunday observance purely on the basis of what the Bible says! Realizing it is not possible to do so, the Catholic Church freely admits that it — not the Bible — is the authority for changing the Christian day of worship. As the text of one of its public study courses states: "If we followed the Bible only, we would keep holy... Saturday.... Well, did Christ change the day?.. We have no record that He did.... The Church.. . transferred the obligation from Saturday to Sunday" (Father Smith Instructs Jackson).
What the Bible really says
Now compare the above "10 reasons" for Sunday observance with the following 12 reasons for keeping the seventh-day Sabbath, and see for yourself which day has biblical approval. 1) The seventh-day Sabbath was ordained way back at the very beginning, at the time of the creation of humankind — thousands of years before the existence of Moses or the Jewish people (Genesis 2:1-3). 2) Jesus declared, "The Sabbath was made for man" -that's all mankind, not just the Jews or any other particular: group (Mark 2:27). 3) God made a perpetual covenant with His people Israel that they should keep the Sabbath forever. That means that their descendants — including the apostles and Christians who happened to be Israelites at any point in history — must keep the Sabbath. The Sabbath is an identifying sign between God and His true people (Exodus 31:12-18). 4) Jesus, who today "lives in" Christians (Galatians 2:20), who "is the same yesterday, today, and forever" (Hebrews 13:8), kept (and keeps!) the Sabbath (Luke 4:16). 5) Jesus declared He is Lord, not of Sunday, but "of the Sabbath" (Mark 2:28). 6) After everything temporary and ritualistic had been "nailed to the cross," Jesus' followers kept the Sabbath "according to the commandment" (Luke 23:55-56). 7) The apostle Paul stressed the necessity of keeping the commandments of God (I Corinthians 7:19), one of which, of course, is devoted to the Sabbath (Exodus 20:8-11). 8) Paul and his companions at Philippi sought spiritual rejuvenation, not on the first day of the week, but on the Sabbath (Acts 16:12-13). 9) Paul regularly preached to Jews and gentiles on the Sabbath (Acts 13:14-15, 42-44, 17:2, 18:1-11). I 0) Paul instructed gentiles not to let anyone judge them for, among other things, keeping the Sabbath with full understanding of what it foreshadows (Colossians 2:16-17). 11) The correct translation of Hebrews 4:9, as many versions of the Bible attest, is, "There remains therefore a keeping of the Sabbath for the people of God." (See, for example, New Testament From Aramaic by Lamsa.) 12) In the world tomorrow, under the rule of Jesus Christ, all nations — Jews and gentiles alike — will worship God every Sabbath day (Isaiah 66:22-23). And there is much, much more. We will send you the documentation — a total, airtight case for keeping the seventh-day Sabbath made holy by God — if you will request our free booklets Which Day Is The Christian Sabbath? and Has Time Been Lost? Just mail the literature request card in this issue or write to our address nearest you (see inside front cover for a list).