Was the New Testament Church Founded on SUNDAY? Radio Church of God
* Please Note: The Church changed the day of Pentecost from Monday to Sunday in the mid-70's, please follow the links at the bottom of this document for a detailed explanation.
There are more than 300 denominations in the United States. Could all of these conflicting sects be the ONE TRUE CHURCH which Jesus founded?
JESUS promised that he would build His church. He prayed that His church would be one, not many divided and confused denominations. But he also warned that there were to arise many false teachers and ministers, deceiving the MANY, founding different churches which would profess to be the churches of Christ. John, one of the twelve apostles, saw this very thing happen in his lifetime! He said many went out from the true church (I John 2:19). In III John verses 9 and 10 he warned against false elders or bishops who were thrusting the true members of God's church out of the local congregations. Jesus Chris: the Revelator made known to John that the true church would be a scattered and persecuted church that would have to flee for over a thousand years from the persecuting sword of a great false church. Compare Revelation 12 and 17. The church that Jesus promised to build, which is composed of those who are filled and led by the Spirit of God, is to be guided into truth through all ages despite enemies from without and apostates from within who would profess to teach the truth. His church is a commandment keeping church, not a political organization. It faithfully retains the testimony of Jesus Christ recorded in inspired Scripture (Rev. 12:17). This church recognizes Christ as its head and it is subject to His government. WHICH CHURCH IS THIS TRUE CHURCH that is to continue through all ages and exists today teaching and preaching the same truth that Christ and the apostles commanded?
How We Can Know Which Is the TRUE Church
The true church must be the church that Jesus founded. It must have been founded when He founded it. And it must have been founded where He founded it. Now let's notice the plain facts. Almost all Protestant churches — as their own members admit — were founded too late! They were not founded by Jesus Christ but by men at least 15 centuries after Jesus founded His church. Of course, many of them claim to be reformed churches, that is, they claim to have restored the truth which was lost by some parent body. Thus they must ultimately admit that they claim their origin FROM THE CATHOLIC CHURCH. The common assumption is that the Catholic Church was the true church that went wrong and needed reforming and so these protestant bodies are its rightful successors! Now the question is this: Was the Catholic Church founded by Jesus Christ when He founded His church?
When Was the Church Founded?
The Scripture shows that the New Testament church began on the day of Pentecost described in the second chapter of Acts. There is a large denomination which claims that it began before this event. Their contention is that Jesus founded his church when he... and they quote I Cor. 12:28: "set some in the church, first apostles." If you would carefully read this scripture just quoted, you will notice it is not referring to the time when he chose the apostles, but to the fact that he set the apostles first IN AUTHORITY. They also believe that only those who are already "saved" can join their local churches. By this reasoning Judas must have been converted and "saved" since he was one of the twelve which Jesus supposedly first placed in the church. What foolish reasoning! Yes, Jesus founded His church on the day of Pentecost — not before then! It is the Holy Spirit that puts us into the one body or true Church. You do not join some denomination after being "saved." (I Cor. 12:11) Jesus even told the apostles to wait in Jerusalem till the Holy Spirit, which the Father promised to send, would come (Acts 1:4). That is when Jesus founded His church — on the day of Pentecost in the city of Jerusalem!
When Was That Pentecost?
Now let us see if those churches which claim to have been founded by Jesus at Jerusalem on Pentecost can actually prove their claims in the face of proven history and the inspired record of Scripture. Was the true church founded on a Sunday in A.D. 33 as the Catholic and a few other churches claim? REMEMBER, if any church which claims apostolic authority has erred in the traditional date of its founding, how can we believe that its other traditions are true! In the March issue of the "Good News," we published an article containing SEVEN IRREFUTABLE PROOFS FROM HISTORY that the year of the crucifixion and hence the year of the founding of the true church was 31 A.D. and not 33 A.D. or any other date! Any church admitting that it was not founded when Jesus founded His church in 31 A.D. could not be the church that Jesus promised to build! That same article in the March "Good News" proved from astronomy and Scripture that the passover upon which Jesus died occurred Wednesday, April 25, 31 A.D. Since we know this date we can calculate the date of Pentecost — the very day upon which the church of God was founded.
Was the New Testament Church Founded on Sunday?
Does the day of Pentecost always occur on Sunday? Or are Jews right in permitting Pentecost to fall on almost any day of the week, but always on a fixed day of the month? Let's see. First, the day of Pentecost is the ONLY annual Sabbath that must be counted year by year. THEREFORE, THE JEWS ARE WRONG IN PLACING IT ON A FIXED DAY OF THE MONTH. The Jewish date for Pentecost is incorrect because it does NOT need to be counted each year. If the Jews were right, Moses would have said that Pentecost shall be observed on the seventh day of the third month. The Jewish error developed when the Pharisees used the day after an annual sabbath instead of "THE SABBATH" — the WEEKLY sabbath — as Moses said. (Lev. 21:15) By using the morrow after the weekly sabbath which comes during the days of unleavened bread, the day of Pentecost will always fall on a certain day of the week, but the day of the month will have to be counted because the weekly sabbath does not always fall on the same day of the month each year. The cause for placing Pentecost on Sunday is based on the error of counting "Saturdays" instead of weeks. Pentecost is not the feast of "Saturdays" but the feast of weeks. (Exodus 34:22). Moses says to count seven full WEEKS (Deut. 16:9) and the day after that is Pentecost. This feast is not in the end of the seventh week, but "after your weeks be out," the fiftieth day (Num. 28:26). It was numbered from the DAY that Israel first began to reap the grain (Deut. 16:9). This day is specifically mentioned in Lev. 23:15. "Ye shall count unto you from the morrow after THE sabbath, from the day that ye brought the sheaf of the wave offering." So God wants us to count from a Sunday, the day the sheaf of grain was cut.
How to Count Pentecost
Now let's count. One day from today is not today, but tomorrow. One day from Sunday is Monday. Two days from Sunday is Tuesday. One week from Sunday is Sunday. Seven weeks or forty-nine days from Sunday is Sunday. But Pentecost is AFTER seven weeks or forty-nine days. It is FIFTY days from Sunday. Therefore it MUST ALWAYS FALL ON A MONDAY!* The mistake of counting "Saturdays" instead of weeks is based on an incorrect translation in the common versions of Leviticus 23:15, 16. It reads "seven sabbaths shall be complete: even unto the morrow after the seventh sabbath shall you number fifty days." The word here translated "sabbath" can also mean "rest" or "seven" or "WEEK." Therefore we need to let the Bible determine what is the proper meaning in this place. The same Hebrew word that Moses used in Leviticus 23:15 and 16 was also used by the apostles and disciples in its Greek form to mean "week," as in Mark 16:2 and I Cor. 16:2. Here it would be as foolish to render the word "week" by "sabbath" as it is to translate Leviticus 23:16 by "sabbath," because fifty days from Sunday is a Monday — the morrow after the seventh week. Both JEWISH AND CATHOLIC VERSIONS OF THE BIBLE RENDER THIS WORD CORRECTLY AS "WEEK." The Douay or Catholic Version for Leviticus 23:15, 16 reads: "You shall count therefore from the morrow after the sabbath, wherein you offered the sheaf of the first fruits, seven full weeks, even unto the morrow after the seventh week be expired, that is to say fifty days." As absolute proof that this verse should be translated "after the seventh week," turn to Deut. 16:9 and Num. 28:26 where the word week is translated from a different word — shabua — which NEVER means sabbath, but always week. Since in these verses the Hebrew words used never mean the sabbath, and since seven weeks — forty-nine days — from a Sunday is a Sunday, the fiftieth day must be Monday. Hence, the real meaning of Lev. 23:16 is "the morrow after the seventh week' as any other translation would necessitate a contradiction of scripture. Some also do not quite understand the meaning of counting from one day to another. A week from Sunday is the NEXT Sunday, and seven weeks from a Sunday is seven Sundays away. But we are to count to the fiftieth day, that is, to the completion of Monday so we have the full fifty days. This is explained in Leviticus 23:27, 32 where one counts from the end of the evening — not the beginning — of the ninth day to the completion of the evening of the tenth day, making one whole day. Thus we are to count fifty days from the end of Sunday, the day the wave sheaf was offered, to the end of a Monday, which is the day of Pentecost. Pentecost is the last or fiftieth day. Yes, the church that Jesus built was not founded on Sunday, but on Monday. Catholics and the Jews know that Pentecost is to be numbered fifty days or seven full weeks from Sunday, the day the wave sheaf was offered. Yet NEITHER of them knows how to figure correctly!
The Exact Date!
Now remember that the Passover upon which Jesus died occurred on Wednesday, April 25, A.D. 31. Therefore the weekly Sabbath would have been April 28 and the day upon which the wave sheaf was offered in 31 A.D. was the 29th. The first of the fifty days which we count would then be April 30. Add to this the 31 days of May and 18 days of June and you have fifty days in all. Pentecost in 31 A.D., the exact day upon which the true church was founded by Jesus Christ, was June 18. This day was a MONDAY, which you can prove in your own home if you check on Webster's Collegiate Dictionary under perpetual calendar. God's true church — the church that Jesus built — has been observing the true day of Pentecost to this day. That is why it has not forgotten the right year in which it was founded. All other churches have resulted from apostacies and have accepted pagan doctrines. They have forgotten the right, year and the right day. They are not the churches that Jesus promised to build and which He promised to guide into all truth! Only the true church which has kept the true day of Pentecost could remember when Jesus founded his church. HOW plain it is! The TRUE church which Jesus built is not an organized denomination which you join. The TRUE church is composed of those individuals who submit themselves to the authority of God, who repent and believe in Jesus and the gospel of the kingdom which He preached. The TRUE church is that body of individuals filled and led by the Holy Spirit — it is the body of Christ, a scattered church which keeps ALL the commandments and believes the gospel of the kingdom (Rev. 12:17). Now let us notice the special reason why God sent the Holy Spirit that day and also the special meaning of the day of Pentecost FOR us TODAY!
What Pentecost Means in the Plan of God
To keep us in mind that this present age is only the preliminary or first harvest of human beings, God took the yearly material harvest of Palestine as the picture of the spiritual harvest. As you probably have already learned, there are two harvest seasons in the Promised Land. The first small harvest is produced by an early rain, the second great harvest by a liter rain. Pentecost was ordained forever at the end of the spring harvest season, so that we might remember year by year and never forget, that this present church age is not the great day of salvation for all the world, but the day of salvation for only the few who are called out of this present evil civilization and given the Spirit of God. In I Corinthians 1:26 we find that "not many" of the great in this world are called. Everywhere, the Christians are spoken of as called out from the world. Not all are being called today. It is the "elect" or chosen who are called in Israel today; the rest are blinded so that God could IN THE FUTURE have mercy upon ALL. (Romans 11:7, 32) The "harvesting" of human beings who are called in this church age to be heirs of the Kingdom of God is explained in Leviticus 23 beginning verse 9. Here the material harvest of grain was originally used as a type of the spiritual harvest. The Israelites were not permitted to harvest their grain until the day the wave sheaf was offered. (Lev. 23:10, 11; Deut. 16:9) This ritual, given to the Levitical priesthood to perform and therefore not practiced today, pictured the resurrected Christ being accepted by the Father as the very first human being to be born of God.
Why Pentecost on Monday?
The wave sheaf did NOT picture the resurrection of Christ, but the resurrected Christ being accepted of the Father on Sunday, the day after His resurrection. Compare John 20:17 with Matthew 28:9 to find the time when Christ first ascended to the Father to be accepted of Him. Because, since the resurrected Christ is the first of the firstfruits and was accepted by the Father on the Sunday after his resurrection — portrayed by the wave sheaf offered on the first day of the week — then we who are second in order to be reaped — "afterwards they that are Christ's at his coming" — are pictured by having the feast of firstfruits or Pentecost fall on the SECOND DAY OF THE WEEK or Monday. But notice this, the wave sheaf was merely the first part of the first harvest. It was a sheaf of the first fruits of the harvest. (Verse 10) Thus Christ is the "firstfruits of them that slept." (I Cor. 15:20) And Christians who are called in this age are also said to be the firstfruits. (James 1:18; Romans 8:23) Christ is the first of the firstfruit of God's harvest of human beings. Pentecost pictures, then, the coming of the Holy Spirit and the ripening of the rest of the firstfruits for harvesting at the resurrection (I Cor. 15:23). This church age is merely the first harvest.
Pentecost in the New Testament Church
When originally given by God, the day of Pentecost was commanded to be observed forever. (Lev. 23:21) Jesus never abolished Pentecost nor any of the other annual Holy Days. The day of Pentecost DID OCCUR after Christ's death that year as Luke records. None of these annual festivals had burnt offerings or sacrifices on them when originally instituted. (Jeremiah 7:22,23) The sacrifices were added to these days and to every day of the year (Exodus 29:38) as a part of the service of the Levitical priesthood. When the sacrifices and offerings were consummated in the death of Christ once for all, these usual offerings ceased to be made for the conscience (Heb. 9:13, 14) by those who were converted and who believed in Christ. But the command that Pentecost be observed forever as a Sabbath and convocation still remained. (Lev. 23:21) That is why the apostles and disciples were gathered together with all the devout Jews on this occasion. If the disciples had not gathered on this day which was sacred to God, they would not have been there to receive the gift of God, His Spirit. Not only did the Jewish Christians know this, but also Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles, understood that this annual Sabbath was still commanded by God for His spiritual church. He "determined to sail by Ephesus, because he would not spend the time in Asia: for he hasted, if it were possible for him, to be at Jerusalem the day of Pentecost." (Acts 20:16) Paul, the teacher of the Gentiles, wanted to keep Pentecost thirty years after the death of Christ! At another time Paul spent the day of Pentecost in Ephesus, a Gentile city. (I Cor. 16:8) Yes, Pentecost, together with the other annual festivals, was observed by all those of the true original church which was under divine instruction from the apostles. (Acts 12:3; 20:6; 27:9; I Cor. 5:8; 11:20-34) Gentiles received the praise of Paul for following the churches of God in Judaea — the Jewish brethren. (I Thess. 2:14)
Pentecost Centuries After A.D. 31
With the death of the apostles, a great change occurred, which most of you have never been told about. A terrible apostacy set in among the churches of God. Paul warned the Ephesians with whom he observed Pentecost, as we have already seen, that "after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw disciples after them." (Acts 20:29,30) "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables." (2 Tim. 4:3) Here is the place Paul warned Christians about the very fables that most of you have been taught since childhood by apostate churches. By the time Jude wrote his epistle, the fables of which Paul warned had already started. He exhorts: "you should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. For there are certain men crept in unawares." (Jude 3,4) Remember, the Gentile Christians in The original inspired church observed Pentecost as we have seen. Therefore, we will naturally expect some PROOF IN LATER HISTORY that the church either kept this day pure or changed it. If the Gentiles NEVER kept this day, as you have so often heard from the pulpits of the land, then we should NOT expect to find any record of Gentile churches observing a "Pentecost." What are the facts?
How Pentecost Was Changed
The following extracts from histories obtainable at most libraries PROVE THAT THE EARLIEST GENTILE CHURCHES DID KEEP PENTECOST! These records speak of keeping Pentecost — a Pentecost that was changed in the immediate years that followed the death of the last apostles. This Pentecost, so-called, had become corrupted with SUN WORSHIP. It always fell on Sunday, the same as the pagan Easter substituted for the passover. Here is a plain statement of Hasting's Dictionary of the Bible, article "Pentecost": "In the Christian Church the importance of Pentecost was continued and its significance emphasized by the outpouring of the Spirit on that day (Acts 2). The day of the week on that occasion is TRADITIONALLY represented as Sunday... Wieseler (Chron. d. Aposl. Zeitalter, p. 20) plausibly suggests that the festival was fixed on Sunday by the later Western Church to correspond with Easter. "Among the early Jewish Christians observance of the Hebrew feasts continued, doubtless with fresh significance derived from the new revelation." Let's notice these statements. Pentecost was continued in the early true Christian Church. It is TRADITION, not Revelation, that places Pentecost on Sunday according to Wieseler. Now let us also take note of the Catholic Encyclopedia. "Whitsunday, or Pentecost, a feast of the universal Church which commemorates the Descent of the Holy Ghost upon the Apostles... Whitsunday, as a Christian feast, dates back to the first century, although there is no evidence that it was observed... the passage in I Corinthians 16:8 probably refers to the Jewish feast." Here is one of the plainest admissions that the Pentecost observed by Gentile converts, as the Bible records in I Corinthians 16:8, was NOT THE SAME as the "Christian" feast which later developed in the Catholic church. The FACT that there are records of a false day corroborates the Bible by indicating that the Gentiles originally kept the true, but after the death of the apostles, it was perverted. If no day had been observed originally, there would have been no Pentecost to alter.
Early Confusion Among Catholics About Pentecost
As usual, with the introduction of error wholesale, there is always a period of adjustment until the error is finally established. We notice just such a situation in early Catholic records before their Pentecost or Whitsunday was firmly established. Bingham's Antiquities of the Christian Church, page 1157, 1158, says: "The next great festival was that of Pentecost, which is taken in a double sense among the ancients. For sometimes it signifies the whole space of fifty days between Easter and Whitsunday... In the former acceptation Tertullian speaks of it, when he tells the Christians... That Pentecost was a large space of time APPOINTED BY THE CHURCH for administering of baptism... And hence it became a standing rule over the whole church to read the Acts in these fifty days Pentecost, as appears from many other places of Chrysostom, Austin, Cassian, and the fourth council of Toledo." In his On Fasting, Chapter XIV Tertullian says this: "Our solemnities too will be bound to be new: else, if the apostle has erased all devotion absolutely ... why do we celebrate the passover by an annual rotation in the first month? Why in the fifty ensuing days do we spend our time in all exultation?" (From Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 4, pp. 111-112.) Obviously, Tertullian recognized that the Apostle Paul did NOT abolish all these days. At other times, Pentecost was used to mean the specific day that ended the season of fifty days, during which "the newly-baptized wore their white and shining garments" — hence, Whitsunday. At one time the confusion over the day of Pentecost led the Council of Elvira, Spain, in 305 A.D., to condemn the tendency to celebrate it forty days after Easter. The reason for the preservation of passover and Pentecost to a great extent in the apostatizing church was the meaning these two annual holy days originally possessed. One pictured the death of Christ, the other the coming of the Spirit of God to ripen the FIRST HARVEST of human beings. Since, however, the apostates of the universal church were almost wholly Gentiles, these men gradually developed their own customs to distinguish themselves from the Jews, and yet to retain the Christian or Jewish names. Both the Passover and Pentecost were TRANSFERRED GRADUALLY TO SUNDAY. And the name Passover was at last dropped for Easter. Even Pentecost has been greatly obscured by the name Whitsunday. And along with the perversion of these two days, the apostate church LOST ALL REMAINING KNOWLEDGE OF THE TRUE PLAN OF GOD which these days picture. The Reformation failed to restore the Holy Days of God. All the multiplicity of churches today either follow the pagan custom of observing Pentecost on Sunday or else NEGLECT the day altogether. The time has come for us to get back to the faith ONCE DELIVERED to the saints. Let's begin to keep holy, the days God made holy. It is time we quit this Babylon of religious confusion and human tradition and follow the paths of the saints through all ages who have remained faithful to the truth of God.