Keith Hunt - THE FIRST DAY, IS IT REALLY THE LORD'S DAY? Restitution of All Things


THE FIRST DAY, IS IT REALLY THE LORD'S DAY?

Because certain activities took place on the first day of the
week, such as Jesus appearing to His disciples, or some of them
being together on this day, many have assumed and taught that
this made the first day HOLY or established it as the Christian
Sabbath.  Let's not assume anything, but search the Word of God
to see what it plainly tells us about the first day of the week.

      In the year 1901 Edward R. Bernard, M.A. then Canon
Residentiary and Chancellor of Salisbury Cathedral, delivered SIX
lectures entitled "THE ENGLISH SUNDAY - ITS ORIGIN AND ITS
CLAIMS."  In 1903 these lectures were made into a book, a copy of
which I have in my library.  It is a remarkable book for its
plain honesty.  Though a supporter of Sunday observance Mr.
Bernard nevertheless says this about Jesus Christ and the 7th day
Sabbath on page 35 (all emphasis is mine throughout). 
     "......He(Christ) did NOT BREAK the sabbath in the sense of
transgressing the Mosaic law, at least there is no record that He
did, and it is highly improbable.  It was part of that law which
He came NOT TO DESTROY but to FULFIL.  It was His HABIT to attend
Synagogue worship on that day.....He did not utter a SINGLE WORD
AS TO ITS ABOLITION, but He left it PURIFIED and VINDICATED."
     Edward Bernard then goes on to say, " Let us now turn to the
Lord's day.......We must be prepared to find VERY SCANTY TRACES
OF ITS EARLY HISTORY, and NONE WHATSOEVER of its having been
enjoined  as a COMMAND."
     On page 37 this Chancellor of Salisbury Cathedral says, " It
is PURE IMAGINATION to suppose that directions were given for it
by the Lord Himself.  Had there been such, SOME TRADITION of them
would certainly have been preserved for us by the 'fathers' of
the second century."



              THE FIRST DAY PASSAGES AND JESUS


     There are only EIGHT places in the New Testament(NT) where
the phrase "the first day of the week" occurs.
     The first SIX are:  Mat.28:1;  Mark 16:2,9;  Luke 24:1; 
John 20:1,19.  Please read not only these verses but the whole
CONTEXT and even the entire chapters.  We notice that indeed
Jesus did appear to His followers on the first day of the week. 
Note what was said by Jesus and the disciples.  Here was Christ's
golden OPPORTUNITY to tell His followers that because He had
appeared to them on the first day of the week, THIS DAY would now
be HOLY, this day would now be the CHRISTIAN Sabbath, this day
should now be the day to hold REGULAR church service on.   It was
Jesus' opportunity to tell them that the Sabbath of the 4th
commandment which they had JUST FINISHED OBSERVING(Luke
23:54-56), was now "done away with" and the FIRST day was now
the 4th commandment.  BUT JESUS NEVER EVER SAID A SINGLE WORD TO
THAT EFFECT, NOR DID HIS DISCIPLES ASK HIM ABOUT IT, OR EVEN
BRING UP THE SUBJECT !

     I must spend a little time on John 20:19, as this has often
been put forth as proof that we should now keep the first day as
the Sabbath and hold regular church services on this day.

     The followers of Jesus it is said were ASSEMBLED TOGETHER on
this day. And that is indeed true. First, let us notice WHEN this
assembling took place. It was at EVENING, a Sunday NIGHT.  John
was using ROMAN reckoning - 12 midnight to 12 midnight, otherwise
it would have been a Saturday night as the Jews reckon the days. 
We know from other scripture that it was not a Saturday night, so
it was Sunday night then.  See a "Harmony of the Gospels" book.

     Now WHY were the disciples assembled together?  Was it
because the first day was now HOLY?  Was it because Jesus had
instructed them that the first day was now the Sabbath, and
because they had been instructed that church services were to be
held on that first day?  NO!  Read it in your own Bible.  They
were assembled ".....FOR FEAR OF THE JEWS....."  The religious
leaders and their rabble followers were still "on the war path"
so to speak against any who claimed to be a disciple of Christ.

     If the appearance of Jesus to one or more of His disciples
on the first day or any other day makes that day a Holy Sabbath
or a commanded assembly day, then the day that Christ appeared to
them the THIRD time (John 21:1-14) would also have to be
included.  But that day of the week we are not told.  Jesus was
seen by them FORTY DAYS (Acts 1:3).  All the days of the week on
which He appeared to them is not given to us.  Are these days, if
we knew which they were, to be Sabbath days, or days to hold
Church services on?

     Those who are really searching for the truth and are being
honest with the scriptures, will have to say along with Edward
Bernard, concerning the so called Lord's Day,  "We must be
prepared to find very scanty traces of its early history, and
NONE WHATEVER OF IT HAVING BEEN ENJOINED AS A COMMAND....IT IS
PURE IMAGINATION to suppose that DIRECTIONS were given for it BY
the Lord Himself....."

                TWO MORE FIRST DAY SCRIPTURES


     Mr.Bernard says on pages 38-39 of his before mentioned book,
" We hear NOTHING MORE of the first day of the week.....but
TWENTY-FIVE YEARS LATER it meets us....in an Epistle of St.Paul. 
Writing to the Corinthians (1 Cor.16:2) he mentions it as a
suitable day for putting by what they could spare from the
earnings of the week, for the collection for the poor saints at
Jerusalem....THE PASSAGE DIES NOT NECESSARILY IMPLY THAT
CHRISTIAN ASSEMBLIES WERE HELD ON THAT DAY.....The OFFERINGS
mentioned in 1 Cor.16:2 were to be kept in STORE by the givers
till St.Paul came.  In short the course enjoined by him resembled
the MISSIONARY BOX kept in a PRIVATE HOUSE....."

     ALBERT BARNES in his notes on the NT has this to say under
'lay by him in store.'   " Let him lay up at home, treasuring up
as he had been prospered.  The Greek phrase, 'by himself' means
probably, the same as 'at home'......."

     What is NOT said in this passage is quite CLEAR to the
honest reader. These verses do not say that the first day of the
week is a HOLY day or now the Christian Sabbath.  They do NOT say
that this collection was during a church service or that
Christians were now assembling on the first day of the week for
REGULAR church services, to commemorate the risen Christ, or for
some other specific reason.  
     Albert Barnes has another very interesting comment under
'upon the first day of the week.'  He says, "Greek, 'On one of
the Sabbaths.'  The Jews, however, used the word Sabbath to
denote the week - the period of seven days......"
     So, this could be understood as Paul saying, "On ONE of the
days of the week" - ANY one of the week days.  Paul was not
necessarily telling them to do it on the first day of the week at
all!
     For the sake of argument, if you want to take the Greek as
meaning on one of the Sabbaths(7th day of the week), we could see
where this would explain the comment by ADAM CLARKE in his Bible
Commentary.  " We may observe that the apostle followed here the
RULE OF THE SYNAGOGUE - it was a regular custom among the Jews to
make their collections for the poor on the SABBATH DAY, that they
might not be without the necessities of life, and might not be
prevented from coming to the synagogue.  For the purpose of
making this provision, they had a PURSE.....'The purse of the
arms,' 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 ARM'S PURSE, or in the POOR'S BOX......"

     It could then be argued that Paul was telling them to take
up this offering NOT on the FIRST DAY of the week BUT on the
WEEKLY SABBATH(7TH DAY). 
     IF it was taken up on the first day or any other day of the
week, this IN ITSELF DOES NOT PROVE that by collecting an
offering makes that day HOLY, or the Christian Sabbath.

     The last place we will look at where the phrase "the first
day of the week" is used is in Acts 20.  
     I will again quote from the late EDWARD BERNARD, M.A. page
39-41.

     " .......When St.Paul came to Troas he attended a gathering
on the first day of the week......Whether the time of meeting was
on SATURDAY EVENING or on SUNDAY EVENING does not much effect our
present enquiry.....It has been argued that if St.Luke is
following the Jewish mode of reckoning then he considers the
first day of the week to begin on the EVENING of the SEVENTH
day......Even if this be the correct interpretation it CANNOT BE
SAID THAT IT PROVES A CUSTOM OF EARLY MORNING COMMUNION AT THIS
PERIOD, since the prolongatior of St.Paul's discourse is noted
as UNUSUAL,.......It is extremely improbable and unsupported so
far as I know by other evidence......It is I think probable that
St.Luke, Gentile as he was, did not feel strictly ties to the
Jewish mode of reckoning, and therefore is here describing a
gathering which took place on SUNDAY evening.  Arising out of the
above comes the question, did St.Paul start on his voyage(Acts
20:7) on a SUNDAY MORNING?  This would be the case IF the
gathering met on Saturday evening.  In itself there is no
IMPROBABILITY in this but it.....rests on an insecure
footing......"

     Again, for the sake of argument, suppose we say this was a
SUNDAY evening gathering.  What would be so unusual about that
when you consider that Paul was a travelling EVANGELIST at this
point of his life. He stopped whenever and wherever he could to
preach to whomever would listen.  Luke simply records that this
preaching took place on the first day of the week.  It is NOT
WRONG to have a travelling minister preach to you on the first
day of the week or any other day of the week for that matter.  
     BUT, there is NOTHING IN THIS PASSAGE that says the first
day of the week is HOLY, or that it is now the FOURTH
commandment.  Nothing here says the first day of the week is
SANCTIFIED, SET APART AS HOLY TIME, or BLESSED in some special
way for the people of God to observe as the 4th commandment.
     For the Bible meaning of "to beak bread" please request the
article "The Breaking of Bread, Is it the Communion Service?"

     Let me begin to close this study with more words from Edward
BERNARD,  " This then is the evidence for the observing of the
first day of the week in Apostolic times.  AND HOW VERY LITTLE IT
ALL COMES TO!  On the other hand in the book of Acts ALONE, the
SABBATH is mentioned not less than NINE times, most often in
connection with St.Paul's missionary work.....THERE IS NOTHING TO
SHOW THAT THE OBSERVANCE OF THE LORD'S DAY WAS COMPULSORY......In
short, the supposed transference of the Sabbath to the Lord's Day
is a FICTION, which grew up in and AFTER the fourth century" (The
English Sunday, pages 42-44).

     HONEST WORDS INDEED from a man who supported, by conducting
church services upon,  Sunday observance.

     If the WORD of God is your ONLY infallible guide and
foundation as to WHAT is TRUTH,  then it should be very plain to
see that the FIRST day of the week(Sunday) was NEVER MADE BY GOD,
a Holy day. That it was never sanctified or set apart to REPLACE
the FOURTH commandment which states we are to REMEMBER the
SABBATH, the SEVENTH DAY, to KEEP it HOLY!

     Yes, I know there are other arguments used to "abolish" and
"do away with" the fourth commandment.  Such passages as
Colossians 2:16; Ephesians 2:14-17;  Galatians 4:9-11;  Romans
14:5,6; and others.  These are all covered in separate articles.


                 THROUGH THE EYES OF A CHILD


     He was barley six years old when he attended his first
Sunday school class by himself (his parents were not religious),
but it was the start of many years of near perfect attendance. 
He loved the stories of the Old Testament and the teachings and
love of Jesus.
     His parents sent him to a Church of England school, where,
for the first half hour of each school day they read and studied
the Bible.  It was during those early years that he was taught to
memorize the Ten Commandments of Exodus 20.  Often he had to
recite them.  This young boy saw how lovey they were, and he saw
that if the whole people of the earth were obeying them, it would
be utopia indeed.
     One day in Sunday school another young lad(they were all
about 9 years old) said the Jews kept Saturday as the Sabbath. 
Our young boy said, " How strange, why would they keep the 6th
day of the week?"  His class mate replied, "No, Saturday is the
7th day, my father told me."
     "How ridiculous," replied our little lad, "God says in His
4th commandment we are to keep the 7th day holy, everyone keeps
Sunday, so it must be the 7th day."
     The teacher was at a loss for words and the subject was
quickly changed.  Our boy thought no more about it, fully
convinced in his mind that he was observing the 7th day on
Sunday.
     The years went by. Our little lad was now a young man of 19.

While attending a Sunday observing church, with a landlord that
also observed Sunday, he was told by his landlord that Sunday was
not the 7th day of the week. This was now the second time in
his life that such was said to him.  He had never been told by
anyone before except that friend in that Sunday school class ten
years earlier, that Saturday was the 7th day. At 19 he still
believed Sunday was the 7th day of the week.
     Being told once more that Sunday was the first day of the
week, he was stunned and shocked. He just could not believe it
was so.  He did not want it to be so.  For he realized what that
would mean.  
     He had to know for sure the truth of the matter.  Off he
went to the local library to study the Roman Catholic and
Protestant books and encyclopedias.  He was numbed into
admitting that all he knew of popular Christianity had somehow
started to keep and observe Sunday as the weekly Sabbath, when
the 4th commandment was so plain in stating the 7th day was to be
remembered and kept holy.  He was even more shocked at all the
many arguments given him by ministers and members of churches as
to why the 4th commandment was not to be obeyed, or how it was
changed to Sunday.
     With all those years of Bible reading behind him, most
arguments were "laughable" if it had not been so serious a
matter.  He had been taught from a small boy that the 10
commandments were good and to be obeyed.  
     With a stunned heart, with a shocked mind, he realized how
right Jesus was when He had prophesied that false teachers would
arise, who would say that Jesus was the Christ, but would deceive
MANY, and how truly it was that true Christians were the "little
flock" the "salt" of the earth.

     The simple understanding and faith of his days as a little
lad reading the Bible were not to be moved. If nine commandments
stood, so did the fourth.
     I knew that little boy very well, for that little lad was
myself.

     It is written: " Truly I say unto you, except you become
converted and become as little children, you shall not enter into
the Kingdom of heaven." (Mat.18:3).

               .......................

Written 1983
by Keith Hunt

 
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