First Day of the Week

Confusion arises in many minds when some try to make the first day of the week a so-called Christian Sabbath, replacing the seventh-day Jewish Sabbath. This is not the intent of this lesson. Our objective is to examine every detail pertaining to the Sabbath day.

  1. Jesus rose from the dead on the first day of the week (Mark 16:9).
  2. The disciples met together on this day (John 20:19-26).
  3. Paul’s followers met on the first day of the week to hear him preach (Acts 20:7).
  4. The Corinthian church collected and set aside offerings on this day (1 Corinthians 16:1-2).
  5. According to The Popular and Critical Bible Encyclopedia and Zondervan’s Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible, the Day of Pentecost was on the first day of the week. (See Acts 2:1-4.)

According to our Julian calendar, Sunday is the first day of our week. This does not prove that Israel’s calendar at the time of Jesus’ resurrection corresponds to our present-day calendar. Apparently after the resurrection of Jesus, the disciples and early church met on the first day of the week. No doubt many of the Jews converts held to the letter of the law and observed the Sabbath as usual.

In A.D.321, according to historical record, Constantine the Great, the emperor of Rome, declared Sunday as a day of rest and a time for worship. Since Constantine did this, some would have us believe the Roman Catholic Church began the custom of meeting on the first day of the week. The apostles and early church began this custom long before the Catholic church came into existence. Catholics later adopted this practice, but it originated with the apostles.

History records that the early church writers who lived prior to the Council of Nicaea observed the first day of the week as a time of worship and rest. Among these were prominent leaders and teachers such as, Ignatius, Justin, Tertullian, Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, Theophilus, Origen, Victorianus, Eusebius, and others. Tertullian was first to write that Christians should cease from labor on Sunday.