Almost universally Christians regard Sunday as a sacred day. Do they offer for this any adequate reasons? Yes, indeed, and those which have been satisfactory to all the best and ablest Christians the church has ever had. After keeping the seventh day and extensively advocating it for over a quarter of a century, I became satisfied that it was an error, and that the blessing of God did not go with the keeping of it. Like thousands of others, when I embraced the Seventh-day Sabbath I thought the argument was all on one side, so plain that one hour's reading ought to settle it, so clear that no man could reject the Sabbath and be honest. The only marvel to me was that everybody did not see and embrace it.
But after keeping it twenty-eight years; after having persuaded more than a thousand others to keep it; after having read my Bible through, verse by verse, more than twenty times; after having scrutinized, to the very best of my ability, every text, line and word in the Bible having the remotest bearing upon the Sabbath question; after having looked up all these, both in the original and in many translations; after having searched in lexicons, concordances, commentaries and dictionaries; after having read armfuls of books on both sides of the question; after having read every line in all the early church fathers upon this point; and having written several works in favor of the Seventh-day, which were satisfactory to my brethren; after having debated the question for more than a dozen times; after seeing the fruits of keeping it, and weighing all the evidence in the fear of God, I am fully settled in my own mind and conscience that the evidence is against the keeping of the Seventh-day.
Those who observe Sunday say that they do it in honor of the resurrection of Christ upon that day, and that this practice was derived from the apostles and has been continued in the church ever since. Let us see. "The Lord's Day" is a term now commonly applied to the first day of the week in honor of the Lord's resurrection on that day. Thus: "We believe the Scriptures teach that the first day of the week is the Lord's day." Baptist Church Directory, page 171. Excepting a few Sabbatarians of late date, all christendom, numbering four hundred and sixteen million people, of all sects and all nations, regard Sunday as a sacred day and agree in applying the term "Lord's Day" to Sunday. So every dictionary, lexicon and cyclopedia applies that term to the first day. Here is a grand, undeniable fact of today. When did this stream begin? Let us trace it up to its head through all the centuries.
18th century, A.D. 1760. Rev A.H. Lewis, D.D., Seventh-day Baptist, is the author of "Critical History of Sunday Legislation." From page 181 I quote: "The profanation of the Lord's Day is highly offensive to Almighty God." Laws of Massachusetts, A.D. 1760.
17th century, A.D. 1676. The Laws of Charles II of England say: "For the better observation and keeping holy the Lord's Day, commonly called Sunday, be it enacted," etc. Critical History of Sunday Legislation, page 108.
16th century, A.D. 1536. Going back over 300 years ago to the reformers, we find all Christians calling Sunday the "Lord's Day." Calvin, voicing the universal sentiment of his time, says: "The ancients have, not without sufficient reason, substituted what we call the Lord's Day in the room of the Sabbath." Calvin's Institute, Book 2, chapter VIII, section 34. Luther, Zwingle, Beza, Bucer, Cranmer, Tyndale, etc., likewise speak of the Lord's Day as the first day of the week. Here is another great fact as to the Lord's Day. It was in existence and universally observed 300 years ago.
15th century, A.D. 1409. "He that playeth at unlawful games on Sundays...shall be six days imprisoned." Statute of Henry IV of England. Critical History of Sunday Legislation, page 90.
14th century, A.D. 1359. "It is provided by sanctions of law and canon that all Lord's Days be venerably observed." Archbishop of Canterbury. Critical History of Sunday Legislation, page 82.
13th century, A.D. 1281. "The obligation to observe the legal Sabbath according to the form of the Old Testament is at an end...to which in the New Testament hath succeeded the custom of spending the Lord's Day...in the worship of God." Archbishop of Canterbury. Critical History of Sunday Legislation, page 81.
12th century, A.D. 1174. "We do ordain that these days following be exempt from labor:...All Sundays in the year," etc. Emperor of Constantinople. History of Sabbath and Sunday, page 191.
11th century, A.D. 1025. "Sunday marketing we also strictly forbid." Laws of Denmark. Critical History of Sunday Legislation, page 77.
10th century, A.D. 975. "Sunday is very solemnly to be reverenced." Saxon Laws. Critical History of Sunday Legislation, page 75.
9th century, A.D. 813. "All Lord's Days shall be observed with all due veneration and all servile work shall be abstained from." Council of Mayence.
8th century. In the year 747, an English council said: "It is ordered that the Lord's Day be celebrated with due veneration, and wholly devoted to the worship of God." Andrew's History of the Sabbath, page 377.
7th century, A.D. 695. "If a slave work on Sunday by his lord's command, let him be free." Saxon Laws. Critical History of Sunday Legislation, page 71.
6th century, A.D. 578. "On the Lord's Day it is not permitted to yoke oxen or to perform any other work except for appointed reasons." Council of Auxerre.
5th century. Passing back to about A.D. 450, we come to the history of the church written by Sozomen. In book 2, Chapter VIII, page 22, of Constantine, he says: "He honored the Lord's Day, because on it he arose from the dead." This shows what was meant by Lord's Day in those early times.
Stepping back once more to about A.D. 400, we reach the great theologian of the early church, St. Augustine. He says: "The day now known as the Lord's Day, the eighth, namely, which is also the first day of the week." Letters of St. Augustine, letter 55, Chapter XIII. He says the first day of the week was known as the Lord's Day in his times.
4th century. In A.D. 386, the Emperor of Rome decreed as follows: "On the day of the sun, properly called the Lord's Day, by our ancestors, let there be a cessation of lawsuits, business, and indictments." Critical History of Sunday Legislation, page 36. Even the civil law at that early date recognized Sunday as the Lord's Day.
Going back again to the era of Constantine the Great, the first Christian Emperor, we reach Eusebius, the "Father of Church History," A.D. 324. He constantly and familiarly uses the term "Lord's Day" for the first day of the week. One passage: "They (the Jewish Christians) also observe the Sabbath, and other discipline of the Jews, just like them; but, on the other hand, they also celebrate the Lord's Days very much like us in commemoration of his resurrection." Eccl. History, book 3, Chapter XXVII. Here Lord's Day is distinguished from the Jewish Sabbath, and is said to be kept on account of the resurrection.
This brings us to the era of the Early Christian Fathers. I quote them as translated in the "Ante-Nicene Christian Library."
A.D. 306. Peter, Bishop of Alexandria in Egypt: "But the Lord's Day we celebrate as a day of joy, because on it, he rose again." Canon 15.
3rd century, A.D. 270. Anatolius, Bishop of Laodicea, in Asia Minor: "Our regard for the Lord's resurrection which took place on the Lord's Day will lead us to celebrate it." Chapter X.
About A.D. 250. The Apostolic Constitution: "On the day of our Lord's resurrection, which is the Lord's Day, meet more diligently." Book 2, sec. 7.
A.D. 250, Cyprian, Bishop of Carthage in Africa: "The eighth day, that is, the first day after the Sabbath and the Lord's Day." Epistle 58, section 4.
A.D. 200. Tertullian in Africa: "We solemnize the day after Saturday in contradiction to those who call this day their Sabbath." Apology, Chapter XVI. "We however, just as we have received, only on the day of the Lord's resurrection, ought to guard not only against kneeling, but even posture and office of solicitude, deferring even our business." On Prayer, Chapter XXIII.
2nd century, A.D. 194. Clement of Alexandria, Egypt: "He, in fulfillment of the precept, according to the gospel, keeps the Lord's Day, when he abandons an evil disposition, and assumes that of the Gnostic, glorifying the Lord's resurrection in himself." Book 7, Chapter XII.
A.D. 180. Bardesanes, Edessa, Asia: "On one day the first of the week, we assemble ourselves together." Book of the Laws of Countries.
A.D. 140. Justin Martyr: "But Sunday is the day which we all hold our common assembly, because Jesus Christ, our Saviour, on the same day rose from the dead." Apology, Chapter LXVII.
A.D. 120. Barnabas. "We keep the eighth day with joyfulness, the day on which Jesus rose again from the dead." Chapter XVII.
A.D. 96. St. John on Patmos: "I was in the spirit on the Lord's Day." Rev. 1:10.
A.D. 60. Luke, Asia Minor: "And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them." Acts 20:7.
Thus we have traced the Lord's Day or Sunday as a sacred day among Christians from our time back through all the centuries up to the New Testament itself.
Who can fail to see that the "Lord's Day" and the "first day of the week" are spoken of in the same manner both by the apostles and down through all the fathers and reformers to our day? To every unbiased mind the evidence must be conclusive that the Lord's Day of Rev. 1:10, written A.D. 96, is the resurrection day the same as it is in every instance where it is used by all the Christian fathers immediately following John. Mark this fact: IN NOT ONE SINGLE INSTANCE EITHER IN THE BIBLE OR IN ALL HISTORY can a passage be found where the term the LORD'S DAY IS APPLIED TO the seventh day, the JEWISH SABBATH. This fact should be and is decisive as to the meaning in Rev. 1:10. Even Sabbatarians themselves do not call the seventh day the Lord's Day, but always say "Sabbath day."
Webster: "Sunday, the first day of the week; the Christian Sabbath; the Lord's Day."
Smith's Dictionary of the Bible: "Lord's Day. The first day of the week, or Sunday, of every age of the church."
Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia: "Lord's Day, the oldest and best designation of the Christian Sabbath, first used by St. John." Rev. 1:10.
Buck's Theological Dictionary, article Sabbath. "It (the first day of the week) is called the Lord's Day." Rev 1:10.
Johnson's New Universal Cyclopedia: "Lord's Day, a name for the first day of the week, derived from Rev. 1:10"
The Greek words rendered "Lord's Day," [Rev. 1:10] and Kuriake hemera. Kuriake, the adjective, is from the noun kurious, and is thus defined:
"Kuriakos" - Of, or pertaining to the Lord, i.e., the Messiah; the Lord's. 1 Cor. 11:20; Rev. 1:10." Greenfield.
"Kuriakos - Pertaining to the Lord, to the Lord Jesus Christ: e.g., kuriakos deipnon, the Lord's supper. [1 Cor. 11:20;] kuriake hemera, the Lord's Day [Rev. 1:10]." Robinson.
"Kurikos - Of, belonging to, concerning a lord or master, especially belonging to the Lord (Christ); hence kuriake hemera, the Lord's Day." Liddell & Scott.
"This is the usual name of Sunday with the subsequent Greek fathers." Parkhurst.
"Kuriakos - Pertaining to the Lord Jesus Christ; the Lord [1 Cor. 11:20; Rev. 1:10."] Bagster's Analytical Greek Lexicon.
So we might go through all the lexicons, finding the same definitions in all. Not a single one refers this term to God the Father, but without an exception all refer it to the Lord Jesus. There must be some good reason for this universal agreement.
So the commentators. "The Lord's Day. The first day of the week." Dr. Clark on Rev. 1:10.
"On the Lord's Day, which can be meant of no other than the day on which the Lord Jesus arose from the dead, even the first day of the week." Scott on Rev. 1:10.
Dr. Barnes says: "This was a day particularly devoted to the Lord Jesus, for (a) that is the natural meaning of the word Lord as used in the New Testament; and (b) if the Jewish Sabbath was intended to be designated, the word Sabbath would have been used."
Prof. Hacket, in his comments on Acts 1:24, says: "Kuriakos, when taken absolutely in the New Testament, refers generally to Christ."
"Lord's Day, namely, the first day of the week." Burkett's Notes on the N.T.
"The Lord's Days, the Christian Sabbath, the first day of the week." Eclectic Commentary on Rev. 1:10.
"The Lord's Day. The first day of the week, commemorating the Lord's resurrection." Family Bible with notes, on Rev. 1:10. Go through the whole list of commentaries, and all say the same thing. Have they no ground for this? Yes, good enough to be conclusive.
1. In all the Bible, the seventh day is never once called the Lord's Day.
2. "The Sabbath" was the term invariably used for the Jewish seventh day. John himself always used that term when speaking of the seventh day. See John 5:9,10,16,18; 7:22,23; 9:14,16; 19:31. Had he meant that day in Rev. 1:10, he certainly would have said "Sabbath Day," not Lord's Day.
3. The Greek word kuriakos, is a new word originating in the New Testament and found only in one other place, 1 Cor. 11:20, "the Lord's supper." Beyond dispute it here applies to the Lord Jesus. "The adjective kuriake was 'formed by the apostles themselves.' [Winer, N.T. Gram., page 226.] To the same effect testify Liddell and Scott. Of the mode of dealing with words in their lexicons, they say: 'We have always sought to give the earliest authority for its use first. Then, if no change was introduced by later writers, we have left it with that early authority alone.' (Pref. page 20) When we turn to the word kuriakos, they give as their first citation, and therefore, as its earliest authority, the New Testament. The question now arises why form a new word to express a sacred institution, if the institution itself be not new? Winer says: 'Entirely new words and phrases were constructed mainly by composition, and for the most part to meet some sensible want.' (Gram. page 25) What conceivable sensible want respecting the Sabbath did the Old Testament leave unexpressed? Clearly the new want arose from a new institution. This position receives additional strength from the fact that the only other New Testament use of kuriakos is found in 1 Cor. 11:20, designating 'the Lord's supper,' which is certainly a new institution." Peter Vogel in debate with Waggoner, page 110. This is a strong point and should be decisive.
4. As the gospel was a new institution, it necessitated the use of new terms. So we have "Christians," Acts 11:26, as the new name for God's people; "apostles," "evangelists," and "deacons" as the officers of the new church; "baptism" as the initiatory rite into the church, the "Lord's supper," 1 Cor 11:20, and the "Lord's Day," as institutions of that church. Rev. 1:10. The new relations as originated by the gospel could not be expressed by the old terms of the law; hence new words and new terms had to be used. For 1,500 years "Sabbath" had been the established name of the weekly rest day of the law and was still used by all for the seventh day. Hence if Christians were to have a new weekly rest day commemorating gospel facts, they must find a new term for it. Hence we have "Lord's Day."
There is a good reason why in the gospel the "Lord's Day" is Christ's day. Officially and emphatically he is the one Lord in this dispensation.
The term Lord applies to Christ about four hundred and fifty times in the New Testament. Hence in the gospel all things are commonly spoken of as belonging to Jesus as, "the disciples of the Lord," etc. Acts 9:1. Now read together "The Lord's body," 1 Cor. 11:29, "this cup of the Lord," "blood of the Lord," verse 27, "Lord's death," verse 26, "the Lord's table," 1 Cor. 10:21. "The Lord's supper," 1 Cor. 11:20; "the Lord's Day," Rev. 1:10. Do not all refer to the same Lord? Of course they do, and who can fail to admit it? Under the official jurisdiction of Jesus the Lord, come of necessity all the institutions now obligatory. Hence Lord's Day is Christ's Day, and that is the way it is always used in the early fathers as we have seen.
Objections answered: The seventh day is called the "Sabbath of the Lord," Ex. 20:10; "my holy day," Isa. 58:13; and Jesus says he was "Lord of the Sabbath day," Mark 2:28. Isn't that the Lord's Day? No; for: 1) The word Sabbath is used in each of these three texts but is not in Rev. 1:10. 2) All three texts were spoken before the cross and under the law, but Rev. 1:10, is under the gospel. 3) The Jewish Sabbath was abolished at the cross, Col. 2:16; Rom. 14:5; Gal. 4:10, sixty years before John wrote on Patmos, hence that could not have been the Lord's day when John wrote. 5) The fact that the term "Lord's day" immediately after the time of John, whenever used by the early church, was always applied to Sunday, and never to the Sabbath, settles its meaning in Rev. 1:10.
But it is objected that John and all the other evangelists in the gospels call Sunday simply "the first day of the week," instead of the Lord's day. Hence if John, in Rev. 1:10, had meant that day he would have said "the first day of the week," as he did in the gospel. The answer is easy. Jesus predicted that he would be put to death and rise the third day. Each evangelist is careful to show that the prediction was fulfilled. Hence they were particular to give the names of those three days as they were called by Jews; that is, "preparation day," "Sabbath day," and "first day of the week." This is a sufficient answer. Moreover, it is probable that the resurrection day was not immediately called the Lord's day; but by the time John wrote the Revelation, A.D. 96, it had come to be the well known name for that day, as we have shown.
Why do people keep any day? Always because of what occurred on that day. Why were the Sabbath, the passover, and others days kept? Because of what occurred on those days. Why do we observe the 4th of July, Christmas, the days of our birth, marriage, etc? It is important, then to inquire if anything occurred on Sunday to make it worthy of being observed by Christians.
Of all things used to commemorate past events, a memorial day is the best. A monument, a statue, a college, and the like are local and only seen by the few; but a day comes to all and regularly. Hence with what enthusiasm every nation celebrates its memorial days, as our own 4th of July. So religion has consecrated memorial days, as the Sabbath, the Passover, Pentecost, and others of the Jewish age. And shall the grandest of all institutions, the gospel, have no memorial day? If so it would be the one only exception among all the religions of the world and a great loss to the church. If the material creation merited a memorial day, how much more the spiritual redemption of the race?
But why theorize? It is the grandest and best known fact in all the earth today that the Christian church has a memorial day, the day of the Lord's resurrection, the Lord's day. It is regularly observed in every nation under Heaven. We have already shown how this day has always from the very days of the apostles, been regarded as a memorial day. It only remains to inquire, if it was the one day best adapted to this purpose. Study the life of Jesus, scan every noted day in it, in the year, in the month, in the week, and it must be admitted by all that no other than the resurrection day could be thought of for a moment. Think over the days of the week. How meager are the events of any other day compared with those of the resurrection day. Monday what? Tuesday? Wednesday? Thursday his betrayal; Friday his death; Saturday in the grave. Would we select any of these days as a memorial day for a rejoicing church? Surely not.
"On the Jewish Sabbath the Saviour lay under the power of death. It was to his disciples a day of restlessness and gloom. The remembrance of that day would always be to them grievous. The thought of the agony, the cross, the bitter cry, the expiring groan, and the mournful sepulcher could only create a feeling of sorrow. Forevermore the Jewish Sabbath day was despoiled of its gladness to the Christian heart." The Lord's Day Our Sabbath, page 21.
It was the resurrection day on which every thing turned. Jesus might have lived the pure life he did, might have wrought all the miracles he did, might have died on the cross as he did, might have been buried as he was, yet all this would not have saved a soul if he had not risen from the dead. "If Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished." 1 Cor. 15:17-18. The resurrection completed the work which made Jesus the Saviour of the world. Jesus himself when asked for the evidence of his authority, pointed to the resurrection on the third day as the proof of it. John 2:18-21; Matt 12:38- 40; 16:21. This test of his divinity was well known to all, for the Pharisees said to Pilate, "Sir, we remember what that deceiver said, while he was yet alive, After three days I will rise again." Matt 27:63.
When Jesus died, the hope of his disciples was buried with him, Luke 24:17,21, and the holy women were heartbroken. But the wicked Jews rejoiced and Satan triumphed while the angels mourned. If ever the devil had hope it was while Jesus was dead during that Sabbath day. But as Sunday begins to dawn, a mighty angel like lightening descends, the earth quakes, the grave opens and Christ arises a conqueror over Death, Hell and the Grave. Matt 28:1-4. Satan's last hope is gone; the wicked Jews are dismayed; the holy women are glad; the hope of a world is secured; the sufferings and humiliation of the Son of God are ended; and he walks forth the Almighty Saviour, the Lord of all. Never such a morning dawned on this lost world before. No wonder it became the memorial day of the church. It was impossible to be otherwise.
Paul says that Jesus was "declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead," Rom. 1:4. It was this that proved his divinity. So that there will be a day of Judgment God "hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised them from the dead." Acts 17:31. 1. On Sunday Jesus rose from the dead. Mark 16:9. 2. On this day he first appeared to his disciples. 3. On this day he met them at different places and repeatedly. Mark 16:9-11; Matt 28:8-10; Luke 24:34; Mark 16:12-13; John 20:19-23. 4. On this day Jesus blessed them. John 20:19. 5. On this day he imparted to them the gift of the Holy Ghost. John 20:22. 6. Here he first commissioned them to preach the gospel to all the world. John 20:21; with Mark 16:9-15. 7. Here he gave his apostles authority to legislate for and guide his church. John 20:23. 8. Peter says God "hath begotten us again unto a lovely hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead." 1 Peter 1:3. 9. On this day Jesus ascended to his father, was seated at his right hand and made head over all. John 20:17; Eph. 1:20. 10. On that day many of the dead saints arose from the grave. Matt. 27:52-53. 11. Here this day became the day of joy and rejoicing to the disciples. "Then were the disciples glad when they saw the Lord." John 20:20. "While they yet believed not for joy." Luke 24:41. 12. On that day the gospel of a risen Christ was first preached, saying: "The lord is risen indeed." Luke 24:34 13. On that Sunday Jesus himself set the example of preaching the gospel of his resurrection by explaining all the scriptures on that subject and by opening the minds of the disciples to understand it. "Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the Scriptures." Luke 24:27,45 14. Finally on this day the purchase of our redemption was completed.
With all these thrilling events of gospel facts crowded into that one resurrection day, making it memorable above all days in the history of the world, how could it but become the great day in the memory of the church? The facts of that one day became the theme of the church ever since. The great battle between the apostles and the unbelieving Jews was concerning the events of that day; did Jesus rise, or did he not? The Jews "gave large money" to disprove it, Matt. 28:12, while the apostles built the church and staked their lives upon it. Thus in God's own providence, the Jewish Sabbath was thrown into the shade, while all the hopes and thoughts and arguments and songs of the new church were necessarily turned to another day, the resurrection day.
Memorable day, one that should stir the heart of every Christian and move sinners to repentance as indeed it has done every week from that day on. "The Lord's Day," how appropriate the title for that grand day on which our Lord triumphed over all and laid deep and secure the foundation of the Christian church. Most appropriately, then, has it become the one memorial day of the gospel, the day of gladness and rejoicing. Shall we, then, call it a pagan day? the pope's day? the mark of the beast? a day hateful to God and an abomination to Christ? God forbid. It was said of Jesus, "What evil hath he done?" So we ask, "What evil has the observance of the Lord's Day ever done?" What man, church, or nation, has ever been made worse by it? Nay, verily, this is not its character nor its record.
I have become satisfied myself that the meeting of Christ with his disciples "after eight days," John 20:26, was on Sunday. He had met with them the previous Sunday evening. Verse 19. Here "after eight days" he meets them again. Sabbatarians count up and satisfy themselves that this occurred on Monday or Tuesday. But compare this with the expression "after three days." The number of the day after his death on which Christ was to rise is given in three ways. 1. "In three days," Matt. 26:61; 27:40. 2. "The third day," Matt. 16:21; 20:19. 3. "After three days," Mark 8:31. All these expressions mean the same. He died Friday and rose Sunday; hence Sunday was "three days," "the third day" and "after three days" in their common way of speaking. In the same way, "In eight days," "on the eighth day" and "after eight days" would all be the same, that is the next Sunday, or eighth day.
What strengthens this position is the well known fact that the term, "the eighth day," became a common term for the resurrection day among all the early Christian fathers. Thus Eld. Andrews, the seventh-day historian, writing of Dionysius, A.D. 170, says of Sunday, "Every writer who precedes Dionysius calls it first day of the week, 'eighth day,' or Sunday." Testimony of the Fathers, page 52. Thus Barnabas, A.D. 120 says: "We keep the eighth day with joyfulness, the day also, on which Jesus rose again from the dead." Epistle of Barnabas, Chapter XV. Justin Martyr, A.D. 140 says: "The first day after the Sabbath, remaining the first of all days, is called however, the eighth, according to the number of all the days of the cycle, and [yet] remains the first." Dialogue with Trypho, Chapter XLI. And Cyprian, A.D. 250, says "the eighth, that is the first day after the Sabbath, and the Lord's day." Epistle 58, Section 4. Where did the early church get the idea that the eighth day was the Lord's day, if not from the apostles? Evidently, then, the meeting in John 20:26, was on Sunday. The only visits of Jesus with his disciples which the Holy Spirit saw fit to date carefully are those occurring on Sunday.
That the day of Pentecost, Acts 2, fell on Sunday has been believed and maintained by Christians in all ages. 1. The time of the Pentecost was thus stated: "Ye shall count unto you from the morrow after the Sabbath from the day that ye brought the sheaf of the wave offering, seven Sabbaths shall be complete, even unto the morrow after the seventh Sabbath shall ye number fifty days." Lev. 23:15,16. The day after the seventh Sabbath would certainly be the first day of the week.
2. The Karaite Jews held that Pentecost according to the law must always be on Sunday.
3. 'Pentecost' means 'fiftieth,' the fiftieth day after the first Sabbath where they began to count, hence it must fall on the first day of the week.
4. Dr. Scott's commentary says: "As Jesus arose on the first day of the week, so the Holy Spirit descended on the same, seven weeks, or on the fiftieth day afterwards." On Acts 2:1.
5. So plain is the point that even the Seventh-day Adventists themselves have admitted it. Thus Elder U. Smith: "The sheaf of the first fruits was waved on the sixteenth day of the first month. This met its antitype in the resurrection of our Lord, the first fruits of them that slept, the sixteenth of the first month.... The feast of weeks, or Pentecost, occurred on the fiftieth day from the offering of the first fruits. The antitype of this feast, the Pentecost of Acts 2, was fulfilled on that very day, fifty days from the resurrection of Christ, in the outpouring of the Holy Ghost upon the disciples." The Sanctuary, page 283, 284. Fifty days from the resurrection of Christ would be on the first day of the week. This is just what God directed; it was to be on the morrow after the seventh Sabbath and on the fiftieth day. Lev. 23:15,16.
6. So the Eclectic Commentary: "It happened on the first day of the week." On Acts 2.
7. "Pentecost in that year must have fallen on the first day of the week." The Bible Commentary on Acts 2.
8. "That the day of Pentecost fell on Sunday is undeniable, because the resurrection of Christ was upon a Sunday, and Pentecost was the fiftieth day from the resurrection." Bramhall's Works, V. 51.
9. "It consequently occurred in the year in which Christ died on the first day of the week, or our Sunday." Lange on Acts 2:1.
10. "The Pentecost day was Sunday." Wheadon's Commentary on Acts 2:1.
Notice now the importance of that day. Jesus told the disciples to tarry in Jerusalem till endued with power from on high. Luke 24:49. They must begin their preaching there. Verse 47. On that Pentecost they were to be baptized with the Holy Ghost. Acts 1:5. In the last days of Judah and Jerusalem the law was to go forth out of Zion and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem while all nations were gathered to it. Isa. 2:1-4. All this was fulfilled on Pentecost. The Holy Ghost came on the disciples in mighty power; then they began preaching the gospel and thousands were converted. This was only the first fruits of what has occurred, in fact, on succeeding Sundays ever since. It has been the great day of power and of conversions in the church from that day on. Thus God signally honored Sunday at the very opening of the gospel as he has continued to do ever since.
All agree that the disciples had some regular day for meetings. Paul said: "Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together." Heb. 10:25. This implies a regular time and a stated place for meetings. Reproving them for making the Lord's supper a feast, Paul says: "When ye come together therefore into one place, this is not to eat the Lord's supper," but rather to feast, 1 Cor. 11:20. This indicates that they had a place and a time to come together for the supper. There is not the slightest evidence that the Christians ever had the Lord's supper or held distinctively Christian worship on the Jewish Sabbath. In every case where meetings on the Sabbath are mentioned it is in connection with the regular Jewish worship. There is no record that Christians ever met alone for worship on that day. They certainly could not have had the Lord's supper in the synagogues on the Sabbath with the Jews. Nor is there the least intimation that it was ever tried. They must, therefore, have met by themselves in some other place than the synagogue and on some other day. Turning to Acts 20:6,7, we read: "And we sailed away from Philippi after the days of unleavened bread, and came unto them to Troas in five days; where we abode seven days. And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow."
Here they met by themselves, and in an upper room, for the Lord's supper. The time is the first day of the week. The incidental manner in which it is mentioned shows that what they did was a well understood custom among them - "WHEN they came together to break bread upon the first day of the week." Three things are mentioned: 1) They came together. It is mentioned as though all knew it was common for them to do this. 2) To break bread. This again is stated as though all knew that this, too, was a common practice with Christians. 3) Upon the first day of the week. Like the other two items, this is mentioned as a well understood practice among them; hence no explanation is given of it. It is said that the disciples "came together" or assembled themselves together, a common phrase for their church meetings. Thus Peter "went in and found many that were come together." Acts 10:27 "Ye come together not for the better.... When ye come together in the church." 1 Cor. 11:17,18. "If therefore the whole church be come together into one place." "When ye come together every one of you hath a psalm." 1 Cor. 14:23,26. "Not forsaking the assembling of yourselves together." Heb. 10:25. This indicates, therefore, their customary meeting.
Notice the further fact, verse 6, that Paul was there seven days, yet no notice whatever is taken of the Sabbath Day, not even to name it, while the first day is prominently noticed. The breaking of bread and the assembling on the first day of the week, it will be noticed, are connected together. Notice further, that though Paul was there a whole week and over the Jewish Sabbath, yet the Lord's supper is not administered until Sunday. This shows that for some reason Sunday was regarded by them as the only proper day for it. "It shows further, that Paul tarried there several days waiting for the regular day of worship to come, the first day of the week." "And the reason assigned for their coming together was to BREAK BREAD, and not because Paul was there.
Sabbatarians argue that this meeting at Troas was on Saturday evening and hence Paul went on his journey Sunday morning. Even if this were so, it would not prove that Paul did not regard Sunday, for, hastening if possible to be at Jerusalem on Pentecost, verse 16, he had to go when the vessel went whether he liked to or not, for he was only a passenger. See verse 13, and chapter 21:1,2. But it is more probable that Luke reckoned time after the Roman method, from midnight to midnight, as John did in John 20:19. "The same day at evening, being the first day of the week." Here Sunday evening is reckoned as belonging to the first day. Luke wrote for the Gentiles, was a learned man himself, and wrote Acts long after the resurrection, when Roman ways were coming more to be adopted. Moreover the meeting at Troas was on the first day of the week and they departed "on the morrow," verse 7, which surely could not have been the same day.
Prof. A. Rauschenbush, of Rochester Theological Seminary, says: "These events did not occur in the time of the Old Testament, but of the New; not in Palestine, but upon the west coast of Asia Minor, nearly a thousand miles away. Furthermore, this was the time of Roman rule, and upon every land and people that the Romans conquered they imposed, not only their laws, but also their mode of reckoning time. Now, from their earliest history, the Romans began the day at midnight. At this visit of Paul to Troas the west coast of Asia Minor had been in their possession for one hundred and eighty years." Saturday or Sunday, page 14. Prof. Hachett, on Acts 20:7, says: "As Luke had mingled so much with foreign nations and was writing for Gentile readers, he would be very apt to designate the time in accordance with their practice; so that his evening or night of the first day of the week would be the end of the Christian Sabbath and the morning of his departure that of Monday."
This is rendered almost certain by the fact that Acts is addressed to "Theophilus," who was not a Jew, but a Roman living in Italy. That the early Christians partook of the Lord's supper ever Sunday, is acknowledged on all hands.
Dr. Scott, on Acts 20:7, says: "This ordinance seems to have been constantly administered every Lord's Day."
Shaff-Herzog Encyclopedia, Art. "Lord's Supper" says: "Originally the communion was administered every day, then every Sunday."
"It is well known that the primitive Christians administered the Eucharist every Lord's Day." Doddridge.
"In the primitive times it was the custom of many churches to receive the Lord's supper every Lord's Day." Matthew Henry.
"Every first day of the week." Carson.
"All antiquity concurs in evincing that, for the first three centuries, all the churches broke bread once a week." Alex Campbell, in "Christian System," page 325. Dr. Albert Barnes on this verse says: "It is probable that the apostles and early Christians celebrated the Lord's supper on every Lord's Day."
The Apostolic Constitutions, about A.D. 250, says that on "the Lord's Day meet more diligently...[partaking of] the oblation the sacrifice, the gift of the holy food." Book II, section 7, paragraph 55. Again, "We solemnly assemble to celebrate the feast of the resurrection on the Lord's Day." Book VII, section 2, paragraph 36.
Fabian, bishop of Rome, A.D. 250: "On each Lord's Day the oblation of the altar should be made by all men and women in bread and wine." Decrees of Fabian, book V, chapter 7.
These testimonies throw great light upon the passages in the New Testament where the first day of the week, the Lord's Day, is referred to. They show that a weekly celebration of that day was established in all churches by the apostles themselves. If Adventists could find anywhere after the resurrection a gathering of Christians only for worship on the Sabbath, it would be used by them as evidence of a custom in favor of Saturday. Let them make the same deduction now in favor of Sunday.
With Acts 20 let us read 1 Cor. 16:1-2: "Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye. Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come." What Paul here directs the Corinthians to do he had also established among the churches at Galatia, verse 1. And this letter is addressed to "all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord." Chapter 1:2. He also says that what he writes must be received as "the commandments of the Lord." Chapter 14:37. Here, then, is an inspired commandment of the Lord Jesus touching the first day of the week and it is to all that call upon his name. This requires a definite act of religious duty to be performed regularly upon each recurring Sunday, for this did not relate to simply one first day, but to each one as it came. They are to lay apart on that day a portion for the poor out of what God gives them. This implies that it would be with them a day of leisure and devotion when they would be at home, have the time, and be in a proper frame of mind to do this benevolent act - an act of worship, "a sacrifice acceptable, well pleasing to God." Phil. 4:18. Of old God had said none "shall appear before the Lord empty." Deut 16:16. On 1 Cor. 16:1-2, Dr. Clark remarks: "The apostle follows here the rule of the synagogue; it was the regular custom among the Jews to make their collections for the poor on the Sabbath day." For this purpose they had 'the purse of the alms,' or what we would term the poor's box. This is what the apostle seems to mean when he says, let him lay by him in store; let him put it in the alms purse or in the poor's box." On this text Dr. Barnes truthfully remarks: "There can have been no reason why this day should have been designated except that it was a day set apart to religion and therefore deemed a proper day for the exercise of benevolence towards others." Why did Paul name Sunday rather than any other day in the week if it was not a religious day?
Adventists say that this does not imply any meeting that day. They were only to lay by at home. But this would defeat the very object Paul had in view. Paul said he hasted to be at Jerusalem. He could not be delayed to gather up collections when he came. So they were to have them all collected and ready when he came. But if these gifts were all at their homes then the collection would have to be made after he came, just the thing he commanded to avoid, "that there be no collections when I come." Verse 2. Dr. Machnight renders it: "On the first day of every week, let each of you lay somewhat by itself according as he may be prospered, putting it into the treasury, that when I come, there may be no collections."
1. They assembled together. 2. They had a sermon. 3. They had the Lord's supper. 4. They gave for the poor. Opening to the very first of the early Christian fathers we find it was the custom of all Christians to do just these things every Sunday. Thus Justin Martyr, A.D. 140, in his Apology, Chapter LXVII, says: "And on the day called Sunday, all who live in cities or in the country gather together in one place, and the memories of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read,...bread and wine are brought, and the president in like manner offers prayers and thanksgiving, according to his ability, and the people assent, saying, Amen; and there is a distribution to each, and a participation of that over which thanks have been given, and to those who are absent a portion is sent by the deacons. And they who are well to do, and willing, give what each thinks fit; and what is collected is deposited with the president, who succors the orphans and widows."
This shows that our conclusion from the above texts was correct. Thus as we see on opening to the early apostolic fathers immediately following the apostles, we find all Christians of all sects in all parts of the world holding their meetings on Sunday in remembrance of the resurrection, just as we do now. This shows beyond all reasonable doubt that the custom was established by the apostles themselves, and that by the authority of Christ. John 20:21-23.
Consider this important fact witnessed the world over today. We have five abiding witnesses that Christ lived, all mentioned in the New Testament. 1st - The Church. "I will build my church." Matt 16:18. 2nd - New Testament. John "wrote these things." John 21:24. 3rd - Baptism. "Go baptizing them." Matt 28:19. 4th - Lord's Supper. 1 Cor. 11:20; "eat the Lord's Supper." 5th - Lord's Day. "On the Lord's Day." Rev. 1:10.
There are now about 500,000,000 people professing faith in Christ, scattered among all nations differing in doctrine almost endlessly. This difference extends back almost to the days of the apostles. Yet all these differing sects hold in common these five memorials of Christ's life - the Church, the New Testament, Baptism, the Lord's Supper, and the Lord's Day. The Eastern Church, the Armenian, Syrian, Roman Catholic, Episcopal, Lutheran, Methodist, Baptist, and hundreds more, all hold sacredly these five things in some form. All agree that all five began back with the apostles and came from their hands. There is perfect agreement on this, viz., that one is as old as the other, that all have come down hand in hand together. These 500,000,000 all firmly believe and teach this. This unanimous agreement must be accounted for in some reasonable way. It cannot be ignored nor bluffed off lightly. There can be only one truthful answer - all must have started together at the beginning and have kept together till this day. And all history confirms it.