The 7 post-resurrection appearances of Christ shows that Jesus purposefully chose the first day of the week to meet with His disciples to encourage and exhort them. The evidence shows that five of these appearances occurred on a Sunday, the first day of the week. We do no have a record of what the actual day on which the other appearances (John 21 and Acts 1:6-10) occurred to His disciples. What we can say with accuracy is this, after Jesus’ resurrection whenever He met with His disciples and the day is identified, it is NOT the Sabbath, it is the first day of the week!
1). To Mary, On the morning of the resurrection – Matthew 28:8-10; Mark 16:9; John 20:11-18
2). To two disciples going to Emmaus – Luke 24:13-33; Mark 16:12-13
3). To Simon (Peter) – Luke 24:31-35.
4). To the eleven disciples on the evening of Resurrection Sunday – Mark 16:14-18; Luke 24:36-44; John 20:19-23
5). To the Eleven disciples “Eight days later” – John 20:26-29
Pentecost happened on the first day of the week! The Church was born on the first day of the week! That doesn’t make Sunday the Sabbath, it just tells you that after the resurrection of Jesus, the Sabbath is not emphasized.
When a day is mentioned in connection with the appearances of the risen Lord Jesus, it is always the first day of the week. Look at the extremely important events that occurred in the life of the first followers of Christ on the first day of the week.
1). Jesus startled them by appearing to them on the first day (John 20:19).
2). Jesus received worship from Thomas (John 20:27-28).
3). Sunday evening Jesus took bread and blessed it and broke it and gave it to His disciples evidently like He had in instituting the communion meal (Luke 22:19) and their “eyes were opened and they recognized Him” (Luke 24:31).
4). Sunday evening Jesus blessed His disciples twice saying “Peace be with you” (John 20:20; 26).
5). That same Sunday evening Jesus “…breathed on them and said, ‘receive the Holy Spirit'” John 20:22.
6). On Sunday evening Jesus gave His disciples the ecclesiastical authority to proclaim forgiveness to those who believe in Him through the Gospel (John 20:23).
Why did the Disciples meet on Sunday?
1). Because it now carried a special symbolic/anti-typical significance for them
2). Even if it didn’t and was by chance, –Jesus still chose to reveal Himself to them only on Sunday, when we know what day it is. That must also hold some kind of Divine significance.
3). Jesus could have chosen to meet with His disciple on the Sabbath. This would have clearly set a New Covenant precedent. He did not chose to do this. The Sabbath was the sign of a fulfilled covenant (see Exodus 31:17 & Hebrews 8:13).
THE NINE “MORAL” COMMANDS OF THE 10 COMMANDMENTS ARE REITERATED in the New Testament:
1). To worship the Lord God only (1st commandment): no less than 50 times
2). Idolatry (2nd commandment): condemned 12 times
3). Profanity (3rd commandment): condemned 4 times
4). Honoring parents (5th commandment) is taught 6 times
5). Murder (6th commandment) condemned 6 times
6). Adultery (7th commandment) condemned 12 times
7). Theft (8th commandment) condemned 4 times
8). False Witness (9th commandment) condemned 4 times
9). Covetousness (10th commandment) condemned 9 times
WHEN THE NEW TESTAMENT LISTS SINS, SABBATH BREAKING IS CONSPICUOUSLY ABSENT:
In Mark 7:21-22 13 sins are listed. Jesus did not mention breaking the Sabbath.
In Romans 1:29-32 20 sins are listed and not one of them is Sabbath breaking.
In Galatians 5:19-21 a list of 15 sins are given,
In 2 Timothy 3:1-4 there’s a list of 18 sins, but not once is Sabbath breaking mentioned!
Why is it that nowhere in the New Testament is failure to keep the Sabbath day condemned as sin?
-Why is the fourth commandment itself not repeated even ONCE in the New Testament?
-If the Sabbath keeping is so important for a disciple of Christ, why was it not mentioned in His sermon on the Mount or in ANY of His teachings?
-Why didn’t Jesus command Sabbath keeping?
-Why didn’t any of the Apostles command Sabbath keeping?
-Why didn’t the Jerusalem counsel command Sabbath keeping or condemn Sabbath breaking? (Acts 15)
Some answer that the Jews already knew about the Sabbath so it was taken for granted that they would continue to keep it, but then why were the other nine commandments reiterated? Would they not be taken for granted as well? It would also seem that with so many Gentiles coming into the Church, that if keeping the Sabbath was so important there would be instruction in the New Testament Epistles somewhere concerning it. There are instructions for them concerning morality, ethics, worship, Church order and family lifestyle. Why would something as important as Sabbath keeping be ignored? Circumcision, which predates the Law and the Sabbath commandment was an issue in the New Testament Church and is addressed repeatedly in the New Testament Epistles and by the Jerusalem Counsel.
Sabbath keepers argue that it is the example of Jesus that gives us the reason for keeping the Sabbath. “He kept the Sabbath, so I must keep the Sabbath. Jesus is my example,” they say. Well this kind of reasoning is flawed because it only chooses Jesus’ Sabbath keeping and rejects the rest of His Jewish lifestyle. Jesus also kept Kosher laws. He kept the Passover, Sukkot, Hanukkah, and worshipped in the temple. Are we to follow everything He did?
Galatians 4:4-5 says that Jesus lived under the Law to redeem us from the Law.
“But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons.” (NIV)
JESUS WAS ALSO ACCUSED OF SABBATH BREAKING. Why, if He wanted to be our “example” in Sabbath keeping didn’t He make it clear that He was not breaking the Sabbath? Instead He clearly admits to it. He also admits that His disciples were breaking the Sabbath and He defends them. Read Matthew 12:1- 14 carefully. Jesus is clearly saying that His disciples are like the priests who may work in the temple every Sabbath and be innocent of breaking the Sabbath. When Jesus says that He is “Lord of the Sabbath” He is declaring that He is above the Sabbath. He may do what He wishes on the Sabbath and therefore His disciples may do whatever they wish as well.
Apparently Jesus did break the Sabbath: “Therefore some of the Pharisees were saying, “This man is not from God, because He does not keep the Sabbath.”…” John 9:15. If Jesus did not want us to understand that He was breaking the Sabbath why did He not speak against these accusations. It’s because Jesus had the right and the authority to break the Sabbath because He is Lord of the Sabbath. The Sabbath does not bind Him. Think about this, if it does not bind Him, are we not “in Christ”? Why would it be any more binding upon us. (Again Read Matthew 12:1-14 carefully).
One of the issues that needs to be honestly faced is the fact that Jesus never commanded anyone to keep the Sabbath and none of His apostles ever commanded anyone to keep it either. Not once in the New Testament are we told to keep the Sabbath. Those commands to the Church are conspicuously absent from the teachings of the New Testament.
EVERY MENTION OF THE SABBATH IN THE BOOK OF ACTS without a single exception is in connection with Jewish worship on that day and not Christian celebration. Paul’s evangelistic strategy was to go to the Jews first in a community and share the Gospel with them. Sabbath is the day when he knew he would find the most Jews gathering for worship. He knew he would have his best opportunity of sharing the good news of the Messiah to the Jews on Sabbath. It was not because he was meeting with a group of believing Christians. He was meeting with non-Christian Jews.
CREATION & THE SABBATH: The Scriptures are very clear that the Sabbath of the fourth commandment was not given before Moses:
The Ten Commandments was not made with the fathers. Deuteronomy 5:2-3 says
“The Lord our God made a covenant with us at Horeb. The Lord did not make this covenant with our fathers, but with us, with all those of us alive here today.”
Nehemiah 9:13-14 says: “You came down on Mount Sinai; you spoke to them from heaven. You gave them regulations and laws that are just and right, and decrees and commands that are good. You made known to them your holy sabbath and gave them commands, decrees and laws through your servant Moses.” (NIV).
WAS THE SABBATH GIVEN FOR ALL MANKIND TO KEEP PERPETUALLY?
No, – Though Genesis 2:1-3 says that after the Lord had ended all His work He rested on the seventh day and blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, there is not a word about it being given to Adam and Eve as a commandment. You don’t hear another word about the Sabbath in the entire book of Genesis. All fifty chapters are silent about the Sabbath.
You do not hear that the righteous Patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, or Jacob kept the Sabbath. There is a conspicuous silence for 2,500 years after the Fall of man. It is not until after the redemption of God’s peopleIsraelout of Egypt when they are safely on the other side of the Red Sea that you read in the Book of Exodus that the Sabbath is mentioned again. (Exodus 16:22-30). Abraham was given commandments and ordinances, but the Sabbath is never mentioned as one of them.
Then the Sabbath is given to Israel and Israel alone. The Sabbath is a covenant sign between God and the nation of Israel. “And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “But as for you, speak to the sons of Israel, saying, ‘You shall surely observe My sabbaths; for this is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I am the Lord who sanctifies you. ‘Therefore you are to observe the sabbath, for it is holy to you. Everyone who profanes it shall surely be put to death; for whoever does any work on it, that person shall be cut off from among his people. For six days work may be done, but on the seventh day there is a sabbath of complete rest, holy to the Lord; whoever does any work on the sabbath day shall surely be put to death. So the sons of Israel shall observe the sabbath, to celebrate the sabbath throughout their generations as a perpetual covenant. It is a sign between Me and the sons of Israel forever; for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, but on the seventh day he ceased from labor, and was refreshed.” Exodus 31:12-17
Notice that the reason why the Lord links the Sabbath to creation is that He is identifying Himself to Israel as the true and living Creator God. He is separate and apart from all of the other gods of Egypt and of the Gentile world. “Keep the Sabbath, worship Me, for I AM the true, living Creator of the Universe.”
Notice also that this Sabbath “SIGN” (Exodus 31:13) is between God and “the sons of Israel” (Exodus 12:15,17) and not for all of mankind.
Nehemiah 9:13-14 indicates that the Sabbath was not given to be kept by anyone until it was given to Israel in the wilderness. “You came down on Mount Sinai; you spoke to them from heaven. You gave them regulations and laws that are just and right, and decrees and commands that are good. You made known to them your holy sabbath and gave them commands, decrees and laws through your servant Moses.” (NIV).
DOESN’T THE BIBLE SAY THAT THE SABBATH WAS MADE FOR MAN?
“And He was saying to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.” Mark 2:27. Sabbatarians often use this verse to say that the Sabbath was made for all mankind, but the text doesn’t say that. It doesn’t say, “The Sabbath was made for “mankind”, it says, “the Sabbath was made for man”. When the Scripture is meant to be inclusive of all mankind it is clear. See Matthew 28:19; John 3:16; Acts 2:17; I Timothy 2:4; Titus 2:11. These verses clearly indicate that when God offers something to all mankind He clearly offers it to all.
The Sabbath was not offered to all the nations. It was given only to the nation ofIsrael. Look at Deuteronomy 5:1-15 which gives the commandments toIsrael. It is clearly stated that God did not give the Sabbath or other commandments to the fathers before (see verses 2-3).
EVIDENCE THAT THE EARLY CHURCH WORSHIPED ON SUNDAY FROM THE EARLY CHURCH FATHERS
THE EPISTLE OF BARNABAS about A.D. 100 – “Wherefore, also we keep the eighth day with joyfulness, the day also on which Jesus rose again from the dead.”
THE EPISTLE OF IGNATIUS – A.D. 107 – “Be not deceived with strange doctrines, nor with old fables, which are unprofitable. For if we still live according to the Jewish Law, we acknowledge that we have not received grace….If, therefore, those who were brought up in the ancient order of things have come to the possession of a new hope, no longer observing the Sabbath, but living in the observance of the Lord’s Day, on which also our life has sprung up again by Him and By His death.”
THE WRITINGS OF JUSTIN MARTYR: A.D. 145-150 – “And on the day called Sunday all who live in cities or in the country gather together in one place, and the memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read….But Sunday is the day on which we all hold a common assembly, because it is the first day of the week on which God…made the world; and Jesus Christ our Savior on the same day rose from the dead.”
APOSTOLIC CONSTITUTIONS: Church life in the 2nd Century: – “On the day of the resurrection of the Lord–that is, the Lord’s Day–assemble yourself together without fail, giving thanks to God and praising Him for those mercies God has bestowed upon you through Christ.”
IRENEAEUS: A.D. 155-202 – “The Mystery of the Lord’s Resurrection may not be celebrated on any other day than the Lord’s Day, and on this alone should we observe the breaking off of the Paschal Feast.”
WHO CHANGED THE SABBATH FROM SATURDAY TO SUNDAY? WAS IT THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH?
“Often the question is asked, “Isn’t it paying homage to the Roman Catholic church to worship on Sunday because didn’tConstantinechange the day of worship?”
It is claimed that Constantine’s edict of March 7, 321 changed the day. Constantine’s edict reads:
“On the venerable Day of The Sun [venerablili dei Solis] let the magistrates and people residing in cities rest, and let all workshops be closed. In the country, however, persons engaged in agriculture may freely and lawfully continue their pursuits Codex Justinianus, book 3, title 12,3, trans. in Schaff, History of the Christian Church 5th ed. (New York: Charles Scribner, 1902), vol. 3, p. 380, note 1.
NOTE: At this early date, AD 140, the only major difference among Christians was concerning the millennium. At that time they had no disagreement in keeping Sunday, and as you will see, Justin says that was the day on which all Christians worshiped.
Look at Paul’s reasoning, “Let no one judge you regarding a,
• festival – yearly Sabbaths,
• a new moon – monthly Sabbaths,
• or a Sabbath day – weekly Sabbaths (or if you wish Sabbath days)”
• CHRIST, he goes on to say is the “Substance”, these things were shadows.
When this passage is compared with Galatians 4:9 an obvious connection in Paul’s teaching is revealed:
“But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how is it that you turn back again to the weak and worthless elemental things, to which you desire to be enslaved all over again? You observe days and months and seasons and years.”
Verse 10 flatly states, “you observe…”,
• days (weekly Sabbaths, corresponding to “Sabbath days in Col. 2)
• months (new moons, corresponding to “a new moon” in Col. 2)
• seasons (the 7 feasts, corresponding to “festivals” in Col. 2)
• and years (the sabbatical year and the 50th year of Jubilee)
Obviously Paul is clearing speaking about the observances of all Jewish holy day, including the Sabbath.
“One man regards one day above another, another regards every day alike. Let each man be fully convinced in his own mind.”
Galatians 4:9-11 “But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how is it that you turn back again to the weak and worthless elemental things, to which you desire to be enslaved all over again? You observe days and months and seasons and years. I fear for you, that perhaps I have labored over you in vain.”
Colossians 2:16-17 “Therefore let no one act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day–things which are a mere shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ.”
LEVITICUS 23:5-11 – Look at verse 11: “‘And he shall wave the sheaf before the Lord for you to be accepted; on the day after the sabbath the priest shall wave it.'” The day after the Sabbath is Sunday.
Read on specifically looking at Leviticus 23:15 – “‘You shall also count for yourselves from the day after the sabbath, from the day when you brought in the sheaf of the wave offering; there shall be seven complete sabbaths. You shall count fifty days to the DAY AFTER THE SEVENTH SABBATH; then you shall present a new grain offering to the Lord.'” This is the Feast of Pentecost. It was one of the compulsory feasts ofIsrael.
Note on the day of Pentecost, a Sunday God’s people were commanded to worship. God says, “On this same day you shall make a proclamation as well; you are to have a holy convocation. You shall do no laborious work. It is to be perpetual statute in all your dwelling places throughout your generations.” Leviticus 23:21.
If you think this is only applying to “ceremonial” days, Leviticus 23 starts out talking about the weekly Sabbath (see Lev. 23:1-4). It is called an appointed time and a holy convocation, along with all the other feast days ofIsrael. No distinction is made by God between these holy days and the weekly Sabbath. He includes them as being equally holy. This would mean that under the Old Covenant the First Fruits Sunday and the Pentecost Sunday were as holy and sanctified as Saturday.
If you think this only applies to Israel, that’s our point. The Ten Commandment Covenant, –the Old Covenant was made with Israel, and NOT with the Gentiles.
Look at Exodus 31:13, 16 and 17: “But as for you, speak to the sons of Israel, saying, ‘You shall surely observe My sabbaths; for this is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I am the Lord who sanctifies you….So the sons of Israel shall observe the sabbath, to celebrate the sabbath throughout their generations as a perpetual covenant. It is a sign between Me and the sons of Israel forever;…”