The following five verses concern the Sunday after Christ’s crucifixion. We will list and comment on them as a group, because they are separate accounts of the same event.
“Now when Jesus was risen early the first day of the week he appeared first to Mary Magdalene out of whom he cast seven devils.” (Mark 16:9)
“Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the seulchre bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them.” (Luke 24:1)
Surely these Gospel writers, who were mostly Jews, would have mentioned a change of the Sabbath day had it occurred? But there is no mention of a change; not a text, nor a word, not even a hint or suggestion.
Because there had been no change. The Sabbath day, as far as Matthew, Mark, Luke and John were concerned, was still the seventh day of the week, the day that preceded the first day.
Let us now move on to the next text.
“Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst and saith unto them, “Peace be unto you.” (John 20:19)
This meeting took place on the Sunday evening after the resurrection. The disciples were assembled, we are told, "for fear of the Jews."
Some, in a frantic bid to find Scriptural support for Sunday observance, use this text as though it proved that the Master sanctified Sunday by visiting the disciples on it, and that this meeting was called to celebrate the resurrection.
This, however, was not the case. The disciples met, we are plainly told “for fear of the Jews.” In fact, some of them didn’t even believe the Master had risen. (Mark 16:11-14, Luke 24:36-38) We would be deluding ourselves if we tried to classify this meeting as the inauguration of a new Sabbath day. The Sabbath is not even mentioned in this verse.
It is essential to read the chapter through to get a complete picture of the events. On doing this the following points will emerge.
The meeting was held in the evening of the first day of the week and continued till midnight or a little later. That is, it either began on Saturday evening and finished in the early hours of Sunday morning; or it began on Sunday evening and finished in the early hours of Monday morning. Both these methods of reckoning the “evening of a day” are to be found in the Scriptures. (Genesis 1 and John 20:19)
The “breaking of bread” took place after midnight. (verse 11)
Paul and his companions, after bidding farewell to their host, then walked from Traos to Assos (verse 13) - a distance of some 18 miles.
The Stewarton Bible School rejects the claim that this meeting testifies to Sunday sacredness and we do so for the following reasons:
If this was a Saturday night meeting, then a 18 mile walk on the following day (Sunday), after staying up most of the night, was hardly the way for a converted Pharisee like Paul to keep the new Sabbath. Eighteen miles on foot, over rough country roads, is no way to keep a Sabbath you may be sure; and it is quite unthinkable that Paul, a life-long Sabbath keeper, would have done this.
If on the other hand, this was a Sunday night meeting, then the “breaking of the bread” took place in the early hours of Monday morning: which, once again, is no way to celebrate a Sunday Sabbath day.
Besides, to “break bread” does not necessarily mean that a communion service was held. The Master “broke bread” on several occasions and fed thousands of people. (Matthew 14 and John 6) The early Christians also “broke bread daily from house to house.” (Acts 2:46) It would be forcing the issue to suggest that at all these occasions communion services were held. The term “breaking bread” was a common expression in those days for having a meal, and that is what is meant in Acts 20. After the farewell, late night meeting, Paul and his host had a meal together and then Paul and his companions set off on foot to Assos. Most certainly this text does not prove Sunday sacredness.
1: Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye.
2: 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.
3: And when I come, whomsoever ye shall approve by your letters, them will I send to bring your liberality unto Jerusalem." (1 Corinthians 16:1-3)
Paul is here instructing believers in Corinth to privately set aside some money for the famine stricken brethren in Jerusalem. The Greek word thesaurizon means “treasuring or storing up.” It has been correctly rendered “lay by him in store.” The Greek lexicon of Greenfield translates the Greek here as, “with one’s self”, i.e. at home. And this fact totally overthrows the idea that this text proves that a church meeting on a Sunday is being referred to. If anything it indicates that the Corinthian believers did not meet on the first day of the week, but were in this instance being appealed to by Paul to do some private saving at home. Then at Paul’s coming a general “gathering” (collection of money) would not be necessary. The already collected funds could be totaled and taken by trustworthy brethren to Jerusalem to help the believers there. The Sabbath day is not even mentioned in this verse.
And that, surprisingly enough, completes our survey of the texts in the Bible which mention the first day of the week. The reader will have noticed that in not a single instance has a change of the Sabbath day been mentioned or even hinted at. On the contrary the Gospel writers - though they were writing decades after the resurrection - still referred to the seventh day of the week as THE SABBATH.